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How to (Safely) Get Your Employees Back to Work

By Barbara Beauregard   |    June 4, 2020   |    3:09 PM

5 Steps Business Owners Must Take Before Their Teams Return to the Office

As states across the country open back up for business, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to have your team return to the office. It’s not an easy question to answer, and your final decision will depend on a variety of factors. 

With that in mind, here's how to minimize risk and ensure that your employees stay safe and healthy in the workplace.

1. Remember that a return to the office won’t be “business as usual”

The coronavirus pandemic is far from over. Shelter-in-place orders have lifted in states across the country, but the threat of this virus is still very real. 

If you decide to get your employees back to work, be prepared to make some changes. For example, you’ll want to maintain strict social distancing. This might mean reducing the number of people in the office at any one time, rearranging workspaces so they’re at least six feet apart, and installing barriers for employees who interact with the public.

In fact, you may need to completely reevaluate the way your company operates.

2. Consider a new type of office setup (especially if you have an open office)

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work, especially for those working in an open office environment. These shared spaces no longer feel safe, and your employees will demand safe working arrangements.

Ultimately, your team members need a private place to be productive. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make that happen.

Rentable, private office spaces are a great solution for businesses that want to make a safe transition back to the workplace. These spaces are private, clean, quiet and perfect for getting work done. With a virtual office provider like Intelligent Office (IO), your employees will have: 

  • A fully furnished space.
  • Access to equipment like printers, scanners and other essentials.
  • Flexible rental terms and no long-term commercial leases.
  • Access to locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, which is ideal for dispersed teams.

3. Opt for a hybrid model

If your team has been successfully working from home since stay-at-home orders were put in place, a hybrid model can be an excellent option. Employees can come into the workspace on different days, which makes it easier to maintain social distancing. 

This strategy can work particularly well when combined with a private virtual office space because employees can alternate working from the space with at-home work. 

4. Stay up-to-date on local, state and federal regulations

Every state and city has its own rules and regulations. Masks are a good example of this because some areas require that masks be worn at all times, while others do not. 

The CDC’s website is a great resource, but you should also check the health department websites for your state, county and city. These local information hubs have timely information to help business owners make sound decisions about bringing employees back to the office.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

In order to safely return to the office, businesses need an organizational strategy. Then, that strategy must be openly communicated. Employees are (rightfully) wary about returning to the workplace. Over-communication will be necessary to build trust and calm apprehensions.

This communication can be accomplished through in-office signage, email blasts and prominently displayed cleaning schedules, for example. 

As you communicate, don’t forget to ask for feedback, too. Your employees may have strong preferences about the type of work arrangement that makes them feel most comfortable. If your team is genuinely concerned about returning to the workplace, listen to their concerns before making a decision.