July 20, 2020 | Covid-19 | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership
8 Must-Haves for a Safe and Productive Re-Opening
As businesses continue inching their way back toward something resembling a return to pre-COVID operations, employers need to find ways to keep their workforce safe and healthy while also maximizing productivity. Here are eight key considerations for creating the safest environment possible.
First and foremost: if your employees can work remotely, they absolutely should. Limiting contact with other people is the single best safety precaution an employer can take during the pandemic. In industries where that level of distancing isn’t feasible, such as manufacturing and healthcare, employers still need to allow as much flexibility as possible for workers to address things like childcare and mental health. Consider scheduling groups of workers in separate shifts so that essential functions can continue even if someone gets sick.
Clear communication and feedback
Keeping channels of communication open between employees and management is more crucial than ever during the pandemic. Employers need to be informed immediately if any signs of infection enter the workplace, or if workers have any concerns or suggestions that can enhance safety precautions. Likewise, employees need to know that their voices will be heard any time they feel unsafe. Reliable messaging apps, employee portals and internal communication channels, regular statements from management, and an open forum for conversation are essential tools for keeping vital information flowing freely.
Training and education
As your business implements new policies and procedures to keep the workplace safe and productive, it’s vital to keep your employees in the loop. That might entail training workers on what will be expected of them before they re-enter your facility, or using a learning management system to help with upskilling or reskilling employees remotely. A learning and development plan not only helps prepare your workforce for necessary changes in the work environment, but also ensures that you have employees with the skills and training needed when co-workers are out sick or leave their roles.
If an employee does contract COVID-19, being able to quickly reference every other employee with whom they’ve been in close contact, plus where and when, is an invaluable resource for both your business and public health officials. Using tech solutions such as Bluetooth beacon tracking to trace employee’s movements in the workplace can go a long way toward preventing further spread without disrupting daily operations. From a business standpoint, a well-considered contact tracing plan can also help protect a company from liability in the event of a COVID-related lawsuit. .
Mobility and flexible scheduling
With more employees working in the field or in remote locations, allowing workers more flexibility in their scheduling can make a huge difference to morale and productivity. For instance, reporting time and submitting schedule changes via a mobile app offers more convenience and accuracy than traditional solutions, giving employees greater autonomy while enforcing safer practices. Even before the coronavirus crisis, mobile time and attendance solutions had begun playing a larger and larger role in the workplace. In an era where maintaining physical distance is essential to doing business, a reliable, multifunctional timekeeping app is a must.
Safer physical workspaces
The coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus a number of longstanding workplace safety issues that have up to now been largely overlooked. For instance, many common work activities that involve close physical proximity or shared spaces or objects will have to be reconsidered. That might entail redesigning communal workspaces, investing in more voice-activated and touch-free technology, or instituting creative scheduling solutions that limit chances of cross-contamination.
Plans for positive tests
Despite all of an organization’s best efforts, there is still a good chance that an employee will test positive for COVID-19 at some point. When and if that happens, your business needs to have clearly laid out policies and plans in place to deal with a possible outbreak. That includes a clear communication strategy, plans for potential shut-downs and disinfections, succession plans for employees who may need to miss significant time, and investments in technology to allow more remote work if employees need to quarantine themselves. By preparing for the worst, your company can do a lot to make the best of a bad situation.
Keeping up company culture
Odds are that your company has put a good deal of time and effort into establishing a culture that is welcoming to new hires, engaging for current employees, and productive for everyone involved. Quarantines and social distancing present some unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean your company culture is a thing of the past. Companies can boost morale and engagement even during difficult times with efforts like social hours and team-building exercises via teleworking apps, one-on-one check-ins between management and individual employees, sending out regular newsletters, and other small touches that help maintain the bonds that make a business unique.
While there is no established set of rules for returning to work in the midst of a situation as unprecedented as the one we’re experiencing now, a mindful, well-planned approach combined with smart investments in technological upgrades can go a long way toward keeping your employees safe, your standards maintained, and your productivity strong.
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