No one could have ever imagined that we would be facing such an inevitable conundrum. Everyone has been strong and all are facing the Covid-19 pandemic in their own ways. After what almost felt like a decade, things are finally going back to the way they used to be before the pandemic struck.
Having said that, we all know that things will never be the same, especially going back to work. Many companies are now considering reopening after pandemic, needless to say, with proper safety and hygiene precautions.
Employers are remaining nimble and paying close attention to every detail and daily updates. But there are still many things that the offices must consider before they open up their doors to the employees.
We have accumulated the top 5 questions that should cross every employer’s mind, like-
When is the safest time for the employees to re-join?
The priority of every organization should be safety and concern for their employees. Before the pandemic, the work-from-home option was purely available for people who are sick or have some issues. Man, companies can’t make their businesses run from home, for them, reopening the office is valid.
The World Health Organization recommends, that the companies should ask their employees to re-join when there is a sustained decrease in virus transmission, very few positive cases, and adequate medical accommodation. Organizations should be ready to adopt different timings for different teams depending on their locality and traveling routine.
The re-opening and the joining of employees will only be successful if there is enough space in the office to follow social distancing.
Which employees should return?
Not all of them, and not everyone at once. It is wise to let the employees return gradually, either one by one, or one team at a time, that the organization can decide depending on the business’ needs. Additionally, after staying isolated for so long, working together will a number of people, might become overwhelming for a lot of employees.
The companies can also allow half the employees to keep working remotely, or create a schedule and divide the employees and ask them to come on alternate days so that even the social distancing is maintained. Forcing the employees who can manage their job role by working remotely from home makes no sense. Therefore, such employees should be allowed to work-from-home till the pandemic goes away.
The companies should also keep in mind the vulnerability and immunity of the employees. For example, employees with low immunity or chronic illness such as heart disease, or lung disease should work remotely till the transmission becomes very low or till the pandemic goes away completely.
How to make the office safe?
Set the companies aside, even employees’ question before reopening the office would be how safe and secure is it to return to work. The most important thing to do after workplace reopening is to exclude the employees who are highly at risk of transmission.
The next most obvious thing is to do thermal scanning and check the temperature of employees every day before entering to ensure they are well. The ones who are not, should be sent back right away. Social distancing should be ensured between all employees, and masks should be made compulsory.
A bottle of sanitizer should be placed at every desk and every door, and posters everywhere to keep reminding the employees to follow hygiene measures.
Will testing help?
Testing as of now, plays a very small role in making sure that the workplace is safe to return to. Test-kits are very costly and affording them is not possible for organizations, and are also not accurate enough. Many test kits nowadays are showing false negatives. Knowing that the employee has tested negative is not enough to ensure that he is not contagious.
However, test-kits can prove to be useful to identify the employees not showing any symptoms, but have been recently exposed to the contagious environment. Additionally, nasal swab tests in the workplace itself can cause in spread of the virus. Antibodies test, that will require a blood sample from the employee, is also not conducive as even they show a high rate of false negatives.
Further, it does not prove that the person won’t contract the virus again.
What should be done if an infected employee is discovered?
Many people show no symptoms in the beginning phase after being contracted with the virus. It is possible that despite the company’s and the employees’ best efforts, the workplace might get exposed. In such a situation, the infected person should be sent right away to medical care, and the office or the area in which the employee was working should be sealed off and then sanitized.
The rest of the employees, especially the ones who have been in contact with the Covid-19 positive employee should take a test to rule out any possibility of contraction. After this, the workplace should be reopened only when it is safe for the employees to come back again.
Re-opening offices is not going to be easy for employers or employees. Rules and measures have to be followed religiously to ensure that the transmission of the virus is eliminated. Thus, these are the key things all the companies should keep in mind before the workplace reopening.
To know more about how you can deal with the employees’ mental and physical health after the pandemic, read up on our HR-related blogs on the Pocket HRMS website.