Hess Associates

How to Slowly Move People Back to the Workplace

March 2020 seems like eons ago – suddenly workplaces became ghost towns
as doors were mandated shut. People lucky enough to keep their jobs began
the endless, daily virtual journey to work.

This new way of work and communication took some adjustment, in terms of family, child care, pet care, dress code, and the requirement for all of the tools of a home office.

Strangely, coincidentally, luckily, platforms such as Facetime, Zoom, Microsoft Team, Skype, and others suddenly allowed us to rely upon them to hold meetings, and talk face to face with coworkers, clients, customers, and vendors. Other technologies allowed us to create and share documents and information.

Gradually companies began to see that remote work, in many cases, could work,
and could be very successful.

But the time has come and doors are re-opening. Will a bell or Amber Alert go off and will everyone suddenly take to the highways or public transportation and appear in the office on a given day? We all know that this will not happen. Many companies are already re-thinking their work-from-home policies, and deciding on remote work continuing in some fashion, from 1 to 5 days a week.

How will this work for you? Well, every company will be different.

But there are some general guidelines for companies to follow:
1. Make sure the workplace is safe, as per COVID requirements, providing PPE, allowing for physical distancing following
cleaning guidelines, and implementing screening programs, if required.
2. Follow the COVID-19 Return to Work Guide for Canadian Organizations.
3. Ensure that you have a plan of communicating to employees – dealing with safety requirements, changing COVID numbers, privacy, confidentiality, human rights, and anti-discrimination.
4. Realize that this will be a slow transition and a test period, both for managers and employees.
5. Give people enough notice to re-set their lives and personal responsibilities.
6. Figure out company (or government policy) related to those who choose not to be vaccinated regarding legal and physical requirements.
7. Have the managers and trainers return first, to organize and make the plans.
8. Try to limit or negate the need for business travel.
9. Consider shift work, phasing people in, or rotating the number or employees working in person or remotely going forward and rethink your work from home policies.
10. Be mindful of union requirements or obligations.

All in all, we will all have to dress up once more and make our appearance in the real world – we are so lucky that this time has come.

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