The global pandemic has created a new business world where working from home has become the norm. However, as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, many organizations wonder what steps they can and should take to ease employees’ return to the office.
First, employers must remain vigilant around safety. Stay on top of safety guidance from the CDC, as well as your local health department. Continue to follow mask mandates and physical distancing recommendations. Create environments to reduce crowding. Organizations may want to consider removing the water coolers and shared coffee pots to minimize the temptation of employees gathering for extended periods.
Take a look at your current policies, as they may need to be updated to address new regulations, processes, and procedures. Some policies to review or create are paid leave, attendance, time off request procedures, flexible schedules, addressing safety complaints, and business continuity plans. Review local regulations that address paid leave and attendance. For instance, Colorado and Arizona have state laws for paid leave time and attendance documentation. See our FYIs for Colorado and Arizona.
When bringing employees back to the office, be mindful that some employees have been away for almost an entire year. Consider viewing this return to the office as you would with onboarding new employees. Onboarding aims to help the new hire feel comfortable in the workplace, instill a positive, hopeful attitude about your organization, and provide new staff with resources to be successful.
Another consideration is the timing of mandating a return to work for employees. Other organizations, such as childcare centers and schools, may still be closed or in an e-learning environment. Consider remaining flexible to remote or hybrid work schedules.
If you have any questions about returning to work, please contact us, and we are happy to walk with you through this new world.