Despite the economic disruptions faced during the Covid-19 crisis, businesses that can still operate face challenges with how best they can continue their business. In the case of these businesses, not everyone is able to work remotely, and for some sectors e.g Retail Sectors; employees still need to go to work. We have identified a few appropriate workplace measures that employers can adopt to continue running their business whilst minimizing the risk of spreading Covid-19, maintaining productivity and thus protecting the business and most importantly the employees.
- Managing Health & Safety
Ensuring a healthy and safe work environment needs to be prioritized. When preparing to return to the workplace , leadership team must identify the employees that need to be on site and when. The employees will have to be allocated tasks of overseeing sanitation protocols, purchasing of safety equipment and defining visitor and contingent workforce policies and screening processes. To ensure that everyone in the organization conforms to new protocols, organisations must issue clear guidelines on physical distancing, wearing of protective equipment such as face masks and initiating systems that is able to track worker’s compliance with health regulations and procedures.
Other health and safety areas to consider include temperature checking upon entering the building and deep cleaning the office. Contract tracing tools also play an important role in preparing to return to the workplace . Such tools could help businesses identify which worker were in contact with an infected employee in the office. This will enable them to take precautionary measures to prevent further infections.
- Leadership and Communication Change
As we advance through changes during the pandemic, organisations must purposefully lead to manage the adoption of new working practices and concerns raised by employees. Leadership teams need to undergo training and be prepared to lead with empathy and address arising employee concerns. This should be communicated throughout the organization to encourage a culture that puts people first. Change management and communication is very critical during this time. Organizations must have a good approach to change management to be able to drive awareness, understanding, commitment and adoption of change among the workforce. It is advisable to have a communication plan as it will enforce a successful transition to new policies, processes and procedures by ensuring that the right messages are delivered through the right channels to all relevant stakeholders including customers and shareholders.
- Operating Under New Demands
During the pandemic, organizations must try to level up their operations to meet changing demands. Organisations must set-up return-to-work schedules based on regulations and new operating hours. Organizations need to determine which employees they need. This will help in creating separate teams for separate shifts to minimize risk of infection. The organization management team must also ensure that new working arrangements and operations meet changing demands of customers and clients and are communicated effectively so that they know what to expect. New processes and risk controls that are being introduced must be frequently monitored to ensure operating effectiveness.
Over time some protective measures might be eased, organisations would need to arrange remote working for employees to ensure productivity and reduce the number of people in the workplace. Organizations also need to assess the pros of remote working and work towards providing support that may be needed to make remote working a longer term arrangement.
- Encouraging empathy in policies & culture
Company administration should make an effort to understand the situations that their employees face during the pandemic. Strategies need to be set up so that the company is held accountable for individual employee’s circumstances and comfort levels, including underlying health issues, child care , etc. Additionally, plans and policies must be established to adapt to new conditions , for instance, introducing or enhancing policies that address mental health and stress.
- Changing Facilities and Technology
To ensure social distancing , organizations may need to rearrange their workplace. Office spaces may need to be redesigned to limit close contact between employees. On the other hand, organisations could look into the possibility of developing appropriate and enforceable mechanisms to control the flow of people in the workspace, including allocating different shifts for the employees. Organisations also need to consider investing in the tools and infrastructure that will continue to securely enable employees to work remotely.