With developments surrounding COVID-19, businesses around the world are looking at reopening. The way that companies manage their businesses including the health and safety of employees and customers is inevitably going to be challenging, but what do these challenges mean for businesses?
How can you put safety first?
Employees rely on their companies to put their safety first. After all, without them, any reopening is doomed to fail before it even begins. Management needs to be aware of all federal, state, and local laws and regulations as the restrictions ease. This fluid situation will need almost daily monitoring.
Planning around restrictions will depend on where the business or company is located, as different regions will have different schedules, and once you understand what you can open and when the next stage will be to understand and control keeping your employees and clients safe.
One of the biggest focuses will be establishing employee safety and guidelines surrounding the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) while at work. You need to focus on PPE, such as gloves, face-masks, and face shields. Even temperature checks as employees enter and exit the site and tracking any sickness or illness.
Before you bring a single employee back to work, you need to ensure that you have the procedures in place to manage detection, preventing spread, and managing infection
Who do you bring back onsite, and when should you bring them?
A scaled-down operation, in the beginning, could be an effective way to manage, control, and test how the reopening is progressing. Sitting down or meeting with project managers and department heads to decide who’s essential in the beginning is critical. While we want all employees to return to work ASAP, limiting the number of employees that you have to manage in the beginning is important.
If someone is effectively doing their job remotely, then consider keeping that arrangement in place for as long as practical. It’s going to be a fluid situation, and you need to adapt and assess arrangements daily to ensure that they’re working.
What do employees need to contribute to assist with managing these changes?
If your employees aren’t on board with the plan, then it’s almost destined to fail. Some employees may be facing difficult personal and financial responsibilities that make returning to work difficult. Having an upfront and honest discussion with employees will ensure everyone is on the same page.
Much in the same way, employees need to understand the problems facing the company and management. If the business can’t open or function, then there is no business. Having a shared vision of how the reopening will proceed is important for management and employees to share and understand. Open, honest, and transparent communication is essential through this stage of the reopening.
With healthy communication, your company could come out of this crisis much stronger than it went in, boosting productivity, increasing profits, and improving employee and employer relationships.
What is management’s role in returning to work?
Management needs to be fully aware of what’s happening as employees return to work. In the short-term, this may require establishing a new team to manage the reopening and almost daily or hourly updates to management.
Management must understand the challenges that their teams are facing, any updates as they happen, and the overall picture of how the reopening is proceeding. A successful or unsuccessful reopening will have far-reaching implications, and management can play an important role in how successful their reopening is.
There’s no ‘do it this way’ path to success, and businesses will need to ensure that they are considering all options as they move ahead with the reopening. Rushing and stumbling at this point could lead to lengthy delays to reopening or a stop-start approach that’s time-consuming and expensive. Do your homework, take a steady approach, and plan each step of getting your business back online, and you’ll have a much higher chance of success.
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