Covid has caused disruptions to every aspect of human life. Business owners have faced one unprecedented challenge after another, trying to stay afloat in the new normal and now anticipating a post-pandemic return to standard operations. As vaccination rates increase and new Covid cases decrease, many business owners hope that the worst is over. Reopening their operations and returning their employees to the workplace is no longer a pipedream, but an impending reality.
However, the prospect of returning businesses to pre-pandemic operations is fraught with obstacles as owners accept that things will not be precisely as they were before. Instead, several new measures will be necessary for companies that hope to start running soon. Here, we discuss tips for businesses that intend to reopen.
(1) Onsite Covid testing
Employers know that their human resources are a vital asset, and exposing them to undue danger should be avoided. Implementing protocols to ensure that workers remain safe upon returning to work, such as on-site company employees testing, can help curb the spread of the virus.
There are many private medical services that can visit business premises and conduct Covid tests on workers returning to the office. Many of these companies can do at-home Covid testing or large group bookings for companies for maximum convenience and safety.
Getting employees tested for Covid upon returning to work has proven a sound strategy. Employers prefer to start their operations with a clean slate, allowing only those with negative test results to return. After that, workers undergo regular screening to ensure that no one brings the virus into the workplace, especially if they are asymptomatic or do not know they have been in contact with someone who had the virus.
(2) Preparing the work environment
Many company offices and buildings have stood empty for months as business owners waited to reopen. Others have been occupied by essential workers and employees required to be physically present at the workplace. An important safety measure for businesses that intend reopening is frequent deep cleaning of premises, including sanitization. Local companies provide sanitizing services, sending employees into work environments to spray all surfaces with a sanitizer, killing any lingering Covid virus molecules.
While deep cleaning is essential before reopening a workplace, it should happen on an ongoing basis. Many companies have successfully kept Covid out of their employment environment by booking regular appointments with sanitizing companies. It is an effective Covid prevention strategy.
(3) Educating employees
Business owners need to understand what employee precautions are necessary to reduce the spread of Covid and create a safe workplace. Any requirements should align with federal, state, and local public health regulations, although some employers implement more stringent protocols to ensure employee safety. These include mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitizing.
Plans and programs to protect workers from Covid are ineffective if not implemented by all staff members. Therefore, employers should brief employees on what is expected when they return to work. Business owners are sending emails and texts to workers to prepare them for the post-pandemic world of work.
Brochures and signage about safety protocols should remain accessible to employees once they get back to the office. These act as reminders to anyone who might become complacent about Covid, which, in turn, could cause an office outbreak. Employers should provide employees with appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks and ensure they have easy access to hand sanitizing stations throughout the workplace.
(4) Understanding the employee psyche
Many workers are hesitant about returning to work due to Covid infection risks. Others are still coping with the devastating loss of loved ones and additional family responsibilities, such as caring for deceased relatives’ dependents. Employee stress levels are at an all-time high. Employers should prepare for this by ensuring that their workers can access support services and resources through employee wellness programs.
Business owners should also exercise flexibility wherever possible, allowing employees to work different hours if necessary. Those workers who can continue working remotely should be offered the option of doing so.
(5) Rolling with the punches
Despite the best-laid plans, a business reopening might be a bumpy ride for the first stretch. Theoretical planning does not necessarily translate into practical application. Business owners should understand that their programs and protocols might need to change to accommodate workplace realities. They should also understand that additional precautions might be necessary, especially if the government mandates them.
It would be short-sighted to assume that the worst of Covid is behind us. This virus has proven many experts wrong multiple times. New strains and variants could continue occurring in the coming months, and plans to combat Covid may need to evolve. Business owners who understand this will face an easier time reopening their companies and providing a safe environment for their employees and customers.