Everyone who has migrated to working remotely, may not enjoy it. While many professionals say they are happy working from home, some find it difficult and disruptive.The lines between work and home life have been blurred during the Covid-19 health crisis.And many people are looking forward to returning to work.
Understandably, employees have apprehensions.After one and a half years of working from home, and making social distancing part of everyday life, they have fears about returning to the office. Even when the flow and balance between the workday and homelife can be restored, when the ‘old normal’ returns to their schedule.
As we help our clients navigate the process with our human resource consultants, we have identified several challenges that employers will face.And some models of return to in-office work, where employers are already bringing back employees in small numbers.Prioritizing business units that are more effective and productive in-office.
To understand more about how recruitment and talent retention will be an emerging issue for businesses worldwide, read: “5 Factors That Will Cause Post-Pandemic Employee Turnover”.
Let us take a closer look at some of the “return to work” procedures and strategies that businesses are using to bring employees back to the office.While also successfully addressing health and safety concerns, and in compliance with legal social distancing requirements.
1. Identify Employees or Business Units That Can Transition to Part-Time Work From Home
Do you really need to bring every employee back to the office? By now, managers have observed which team members are well suited to working from home; with zero loss in productivity.In fact, some preliminary studies share that many professionals may be more productive at home.While others, are not, and require an in-office supervisory structure.
Consult with your departmental managers to identify the best candidates who may be able to work indefinitely from home.Without compromising performance.Other employees may be happy to work part-time from home, and also in the office.
By now, most employers have adopted seamless communication software, including instant messaging via SLACK or Microsoft Teams, and web conferencing for meetings via Zoom. Identify which employees and service roles must be present full-time in your facility for operational needs. And then talk to your team(s) about their preference for full or part-time remote work.
2. Create a Symptom Reporting Intranet Between Employees and Human Resources
Some companies have added telemedicine services, or a hotline and free appointment with a nurse practitioner or physician for employees. This allows employees to talk to a medical professional if they are concerned that they have symptoms of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Other organizations have added a health check as employees enter the workplace. This can include a quick verbal check for symptoms, and temperature screening to identify fever and other signs of the virus.
However, having a nurse onsite for forty hours a week can be cost prohibitive.While the telemedicine option (provided at no charge) can make employees feel supported.And also, substantially reduce the risk of spreading the virus among your team.
After more than a year of witnessing how easy the Covid-19 virus spreads, companies should prepare for a health intervention service.While it increases expenditures, it can also prevent a viral spread among employees, that could grind operations to a halt.
Some companies have revised their employee handbook and policies substantially, to include new health and safety considerations.And punitive measures against employees who willingly do not follow prevention methods. Or those who appear in-office, while symptomatic, without reporting the risk to the human resource manager.
3. Ensure Sanitation Protocols Are in Place to Maintain a Hygienic Work Environment
Before your employees begin returning to your place of business, you should consider investing in onsite prevention and additional sanitation. For example, touch free hand sanitizer dispensers should be available throughout your office.Providing antibacterial and antiviral wipes to allow employees to sanitize their desk, computer equipment and work areas is important.
Employees expect to see these protocols in effect until the virus is no longer a daily threat. Personal sanitation should also be available at the entrances to your place of business.This can help reduce the presence of the virus in your facility.And ensure that employees remain proactive about prevention, as a health and safety protocol.
4. Consider Continental Scheduling of Employees That Work In-Office
Did you know that some businesses are considering the adoption of a four-day work week? How is that possible? By condensing work hours into four days (rather than five).And while that means addressing local labor laws about hours of service, it can in most jurisdictions be accommodated. If the employer has the support of employees.
The extension of the eight-hour day to a ten-hour day (11 hours breaks) seems arduous.But when employees are presented with the benefits, including one full business day off every week, many are willing to try it.Some studies have shown that continental and condensed workweeks also result in lower absenteeism for health and caregiving needs.
After you have planned some strategies to bring more employees back to the office, ensure that you are communicating all aspects to your team.They will want to know and be assured of the extra steps your organization is taking to protect the health and safety of your team.
Some employees may wish to remain working 100% remotely.However, their performance and productivity may have suffered over the past year, as a result. In which case, a review of the criteria used to identify which team members can work from home is required.And human resource professionals should be prepared for employee attrition if work from home accommodations will not be provided.