Return to work post-COVID-19: 8 advice for a safe restart

HR Insight

Probably you’re eager to return to work and resume your business, but as the virus is still out there, never lose sight of the safety of your people.

So, after weeks of quarantine and remote working, it’s time to adopt a new normal and return to work while maintaining vital prevention methods. We’re all new to this situation and it’s not easy to keep these balls in the air. But as a leading HR solutions firm, we know what can help you.

Keep these advice in mind if you’re thinking about a safe return to work:

Extend working remotely practice

Where working remotely is successful and productive, consider extending this approach to minimize gathering and any concern about virus spreading.

With teams working from home, schedule regular informal check-ins to keep an eye on their wellbeing and to get their feedback, rather than a succession of formal work meetings. It won’t replicate the “my door is always open” offer or the collegiate atmosphere of the break room, but the effort will be appreciated.

Communication is critically important

return to work

Once returned to the office, people will be hungry for information insight and advice, so over- rather than under-communicate. Select the most appropriate channels and tools to communicate on health-related topics, address behavioral expectations, and inform on regulations.

You may consider proceeding:

  • Online training on worker safety and health;
  • (Physically distanced) Face-to-face or video briefing on the need for shift patterns and teams to change;
  • Internal newsletters and posters on health-related updates, critical hygiene rules, and regulations;
  • Interactive apps as a tool and a channel in pandemic communications and engagement;
  • Office induction for the guests to your office, including a specific COVID-19 health and safety briefing before giving them Personal protective equipment (PPE).

Provision of enough quantities of appropriate PPE and sanitary facilities

These items are still in high demand and are normally “consumables” intended for a one-off use, so you will want to assure a continuing supply. Integrate hygiene and wellbeing into the daily schedule by encouraging hand-washing breaks. And as the new rules may feel all-pervading, organize periods for people to go outside for fresh air.

People working off-site should have access to decent and appropriate PPE and hygiene facilities, as any contrast between offices and operations in the field is to be avoided.

Maintain physical distancing

Before returning to work, establish and communicate rules of physical distancing that follows with government requirements. Then use physical markers on floors, walls, work areas, and chevrons in walkways as a reminder.

This is especially important at ‘pinch points’ like on stairs, in elevators or passageways where clear rules and possibly a one-way system would aid distancing.

Plus, try to separate people by time. For example, define breaks and meal shifts for certain departments, and limit time spent in the canteen/pantry. Also, extend the overall time during which food will be served to eliminate “busy times” and facilitate physical distancing.

Also, physical barriers work. Transparent screens and taped-off areas to separate personnel from each other and customers are all helpful.

Health monitoring, testing, and observation

return to work adecco việt nam

Ensure your health monitoring, testing, and surveillance protocols adhere to government workplace and privacy rules.

Protocols should be agreed internally and once published, should be accessible to everyone. As a first step in setting up the protocol, you may want to seek advice from health professionals.

If someone infected with COVID-19 or is symptomatic, or if a family member is infected, ask them to work from home for a designated period. And make sure they’re healthy once they return to work.

Limit travel and logistics

If you’re using delivery services from couriers or freight companies, consider developing complementary protocols to minimize physical interactions between delivery personnel and receivers. For example, use Bluetooth or apps to confirm delivery, call ahead to agree on drop-off points, or send a confirmation email when the orders are completed.

Also define acceptable forms of transport for key on-site staff to, from, and during work. This may include encouraging and incentivizing single occupancy car use, bikes, or use of company shuttle buses with reduced occupancy.

Business continuity team

return to work adecco

You should maintain a multidisciplinary team approach to manage day-to-day and month-to-month business continuity and to update contingency plans for the safe and efficient running of the workplace.

The team’s focus could be:

  • How to maintain business operations by identifying and managing disruptions. For example, the shortage of PPE can be solved by reserving a reasonable quantity.
  • The absences due to ill health, which may be anticipated and solved by training more team members on a critical role.

Overall, the team should be on constant alert for a recurrence of quarantine, and ready to activate mitigation plans to manage future peaks in infection.

The role of management and leadership

Highest senior leaders need to own the pandemic response effort and lead from the front. Delegating the execution of the plan without 100% backing and visible support may lead to failure. Don’t underestimate the importance of leadership engagement and communication with your people, customers, and other parties when you back to the office.

In doing so, set the tone from the top. Communicate clearly and regularly about their expectations of behavior and other crucial procedures of virus prevention. And most important - they should “walk the talk”. Wear the correct PPE. Observe physical distancing. Working remotely when possible. And pick up on other health and hygiene protocols.

For detailed instructions, download our Safely Return to Work Guideline here.

Read more about COVID-19:

Find the right person.

Whether you want temporary help or full-time employees.

Get started

Call our team

Contact your local branch and speak to a job expert

Find a branch