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Ensuring a safe return to the workplace

Ensuring a safe return to the workplace

Amid fears of a second wave of COVID-19, many employees remain cautious about resuming ‘business as usual’ – and that includes anxiety and even fear about returning to the workplace.

Tactics for creating the smoothest return-to-the-workplace experience comes down to protecting the physical safety of employees, as well as protecting their mental health.

Tactic one: Employ data and technology

Data and technology are critical for maintaining both the physical and mental wellbeing of employees.

A significant portion of anxiety about returning to the workplace stems from a lack of information. It goes without saying that you should be using any and all digital tools and platforms to ensure you are communicating changes and happenings to employees as efficiently as possible. Making sure communication doesn’t drop off as teams return to the office is critical in allaying fears and upholding a semblance of stability.

For the physical return to work, ELMO has been using a technology called Who’s On Location, ordinarily used for keeping track of guests and checking them in and out. As employers cannot mandate the download of the COVIDsafe app, accounting for all employees and treating them as visitors serves as an effective substitute, one that ensures extra vigilance and security.

The key is to ensure that you are still protecting the personal identity information of your employees while employing the technology needed to keep them safe.

Tactic two: Consult your employees

Having a clearly defined strategy for consulting your employees is the most effective means of keeping mental health on track. Unfortunately, communications are often a one-way street, or are conveyed on an ad hoc basis by team leaders.

Setting up a schedule for pulse surveys can be a good way of measuring employee sentiment during the pandemic, and to identify key concerns about the return to work. Aside from this, ELMO leaders have also set up new Slack channels dedicated to sharing vital COVID-19-related office and process updates for the duration of the pandemic. These channels give employees a centralised point of communication that they can check every day.

Having the option to comment or critique in a visible, secure location is the key to creating productive dialogue and actionable insights.

Tactic three: Change the configuration of your daily onsite workforce

The logistics of getting back to the office are far more complicated than merely dividing employees evenly into shifts against your total number of available seats. Other considerations may include how many people can fit in your lift, employees in circumstances that don’t allow them to work from home, and many others.

Utilising gathered data at this stage is critical for creating the most beneficial rotation for employees in the office. Here, using a Google sheet or other live document can be valuable for informing employees of office shifts.

Other practices to ensure physical safety may include:

  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits
  • Establishing risk strategies and temporary work protocols
  • Ensuring employees exit and enter through a single door

Ultimately, there is no way of satisfying everybody in the return to the workplace. But through a deliberate, measured strategy, the return to the office can be as safe and comfortable for employees as possible.

For further information on developing a return-to-the-workplace strategy, download ELMO’s comprehensive eBook, How to make the ‘new normal’ great. This eBook contains tips on pre-return preparation, organising office space and determining work schedules, plus ongoing health and hygiene initiatives to implement for employees, and more.

ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll can help business leaders manage their workforce, even while operating remotely. As a cloud-based solution, ELMO helps employers manage their teams from anywhere at any time from a secure, centralised database. All employee-employer touchpoints are covered by ELMO’s suite, from ‘hire to retire’. This includes recruitment, onboarding, performance management, payroll, rostering / time & attendance, learning & development, and more. For further information, contact us.