Returning to a New Normal: Workplace Strategies and Practices in a Post-COVID Environment

As the federal and state governments have begun to unveil their plans and timeframes for kicking society back into gear following COVID-19, many businesses now face an unprecedented challenge: how to safely and efficiently return to work in this strange new normal.

No industry will come back completely unscathed -- most schools won’t resume until the Fall at the earliest, many manufacturing plants will have to find ways to resume operations after weeks of lost ground, and those who work in offices will find themselves surrounded by fellow employees after a long span of isolation. It will be difficult, awkward, and frustrating. However, decision-makers can take several steps to help ease this transition back to work and ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers.

Let’s go over some workplace strategies and practices to consider in a post-COVID environment, whenever that may be.

Stay Cautious

In terms of reopening, the “who,” “when,” and “how,” are still up in the air and vary from region to region. But when your business finally gets the go-ahead to resume operations, don’t dive in headfirst. Instead, carefully follow guidelines and recommendations from official organizations like OSHA and the CDC. These resources will help you devise a smart, safe strategy for returning to work, including details on bringing back employees who have had a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, proper disinfection protocols, and more. COVID-19 will likely still pose a threat even after society is back up and running, after all.

Re-establish Workplace Hygiene and Cleaning Standards

This global pandemic has sparked an opportunity for businesses to redouble their efforts regarding infection control, hygiene, and safety. So, as work recommences, take some time to reconfigure and/or re-establish your handwashing, cleaning, and disinfecting protocols. Make sure your entire staff is on board with these policies and set up reminders in the form of posters, meetings, and incentives to keep your workplace on track. Additionally, if your budget allows, consider hiring disinfecting cleaning services to routinely sanitize and maintain your workplace. You might find that some cleaning services for offices now deliver disinfecting solutions (specifically aimed at killing COVID-19) in an effort to reach new clients.

Stock up on PPE and Other Backup Safety Equipment

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the world can virtually shut down in a matter of days thanks to a pesky microorganism. As COVID-19 rose to prominence, many institutions (even healthcare facilities) suddenly realized they lacked the proper equipment and gear to ensure the health and safety of their people. So, while having reliable disinfection services in-house or on-call is useful, you should also be prepared for whatever challenges may come in the future. When supplies of personal protective equipment return to normal, invest in a backup stock so you’re ready for anything.

Retain Remote Work Protocols

COVID-19 has also accelerated a growing trend in the workplace: remote work. Of course, some industries have little, if any, use for telecommuting. But several schools, offices, informational industries, etc., have been able to shift most, if not all, of their operations online to keep things moving while physically distancing. As society returns to some normalcy, businesses that can sustain some level of remote work should continue to do so. The benefits of telecommuting go beyond mitigating the spread of illness, too -- remote work reduces the time it takes to get to work, reinforces productivity over merely “showing up,” and empowers employees to do their best work on their time. In other words, retaining remote work protocols post-COVID-19 won’t just keep your people safe and healthy -- it may also help your business thrive in this new normal.

Keep Up to Date on COVID-19 Testing

Creating and distributing effective tests for COVID-19 has been a struggle for countries all around the world, including the U.S., but things are looking up. As these tests become more readily available, businesses will get a better sense of who, if anyone, in their organization was infected and has the antibodies that offer them immunity. This data will help inform your decisions on who to allow back into your physical work setting and when. So, stay up to date on the latest news regarding and testing and find out if, when, and how you can test your people before returning to normal operations.

The world will look different after COVID-19 than it did before, but everyone is in the same boat. By implementing well-informed workplace strategies and practices, you and your people can adapt to this new normal safely, and come out healthier, stronger, and more productive in the end.

The Budd Group’s professional disinfecting services can help businesses like yours safely transition back to work when the time is right.

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