It would seem there are two camps right now when it comes to a response to the COVID-19 pandemic – those that are waiting for the world to return to normal and those that feel it never well.
Regardless of which side of the divide you fall on, however, from June 15 onwards, many of us will have been expected to return to work and that means returning to a very different workplace.
This is a workplace where being alert and aware at all times will be more important than ever before and a workplace that will feel almost alien at first as we all learn to negotiate this much-heralded ‘new normal’.
But how should we be preparing our workplaces in anticipation?
Laying the foundations
The first thing all workplaces should be doing is ensuring their premises are ready for the return. This means upgrading security systems to not only keep employees and businesses interests safe from criminal threats but to keep everyone safe from the lingering virus too.
This means laying down the infrastructure for this new post-COVID workplace: Install hand sanitiser stations where possible so that staff, customers and clients feel like they don’t need to keep rushing to the bathroom every time they cough into their hands and utilise CCTV and access control solutions to help maintain safe and responsible social distancing at all times.
Focusing on employee wellbeing
The coronavirus crisis has brought the issue of employee mental wellbeing into sharp focus, with experts anticipating a major increase in the prevalence of mental health concerns in the workplace post-COVID.
One study by the JAMA Network predicts that anxiety, depression, loneliness, substance abuse and domestic violence are all things that could have affected employees during lockdown and they are going to need some real help if they are going to be able to return to work safely.
Keeping it clean
Shared workspaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, with PPE on-hand for all is possible at the employer’s expense. Employers should also be regularly monitoring the health and temperatures of their employees in case COVID symptoms start to reveal themselves.
Also, arranging regular check-ups with employees to ensure they are aware of company hygiene policies is certainly recommended.
Reevaluating hiring plans
Over the last few years, the job market has been seen very much as a seller’s market but with so many being rendered jobless by the pandemic, that has been turned completely on its head.
We’re now in a buyer’s market as far as talent is concerned and that means companies in a situation where they are able to take on new staff should have their pick of the litter so to speak. With remote work more of a legitimate option in a post-lockdown economy, there is also the option of hiring further afield and experimenting with new ideas.
Preparing the home as an office
There is always the lingering threat that we could be sent back into lockdown at any moment if the ‘R rate’ rises above 1 and that means employers need to start considering the home as a practical alternative to the office.
Preparing employees with the practical tools they need to work from home and ensuring those home working environments are safe and secure should be the absolute minimum.
The future is as-yet-unwritten but as we all scramble to make sense of what’s happening and what to expect next, perhaps the most important thing employers can do is to remain flexible in their approach to just about everything.
Make all of your plans with the assumption that those plans could change and you’ll be that much more likely to handle whatever the world has to throw at you next!