Return to the Workplace
Ready to get back
to the workplace?
Ready to get back to the workplace?
Here is some helpful insight to better prepare you and your staff to get back to the office in a safe and responsible way.
Monitoring Current Situation
Keep up to date on regulations and guidance from Federal, Provincial, and local government and public health agencies to ensure you are clear on the status of returning to the office as well as what businesses are required to do to safely open.
Assign responsibilities for decision making including when employees can come back to the office. It should be clear who is responsible for the overall plan, facilities requirements, desk layout, safety inspections, temperature taking, communication, employee reporting, and for monitoring compliance with the new requirements.
If you don’t have a security officer or one individual in charge of information security, now would be a great time to assign that role. Now more than ever, it is important to have one individual who leads the charge for security awareness training, visitor protocols, general security policies and to hold you compliant with any new security protocols in the post COVID-19 world. Security policies should also be refreshed and if you don’t currently have them in place, now would be a good time to get started.
Make sure the building is safe for return if you had a longer-term facility closure – there are no water issues, bathrooms are in working order, safety systems like fire alarms have been tested and vendors have been reengaged for supplies or support. You’ll need to inspect everything and implement any additional changes as a result. Ensure thorough cleaning and disinfection is performed before employees return.
With employees spreading out around the office, make sure they can access the network and the internet from anywhere without any slowness or interference. Check out our Wi-Fi eBook to learn about a few common causes that may be negatively impacting your wireless network.
Social Distancing Plan
Your office needs to allow for two meters between employees. Determine the maximum capacity based on this; which can then act as a foundation for rotating staff schedules. Determine which desks can be used and how will they be assigned, designate large meeting rooms that can be used and block access to smaller rooms which cannot accommodate social distancing. Lunch/break areas should be configured to allow ample physical distancing space and consider traffic flow throughout the building to allow for distancing. Remove chairs from smaller rooms if needed.
For many businesses, some employees will continue to work from home, whether as part of a rotating schedule, or more permanently. Make sure you are providing them with the tools they need to properly access network files and applications. Our Remote Work Solutions page has lots of information on empowering your employees with the tools they need to stay productive and safe working from home.
During the COVID-era, businesses need to change the way we communicate with one another. To minimize physical contact telework has become more vital than ever! But, there are times that a face-to-face experience is needed… Our Double Robot allows you to meet others in a virtual 1:1 way. Check out our telepresence robotics solutions here.
Preparing Your Employees
Employees are likely anxious about returning to work so clear communication is required, outlining how you will be keeping them safe and what their responsibilities are. Be clear on the benefits of returning to the office but also consider that there may not be a benefit for some and working from home can continue. Make sure you encourage employee communication and allow concerns to be discussed. Document and educate employees on new policies, restrictions, and expectations.
With more employees taking company issued laptops home, it is important to keep company data protected if the device is lost or stolen. COVID-19 has overwhelmed a lot of people, so give them one less thing to worry about with good, up-to-date antivirus and encryption on their devices. Learn more about our security offerings and how you can help your employees feel as safe as possible.
Determine what doors or entrances will be used for employees, visitors, and deliveries. Provide safety supplies at the designated entrances – sanitizers, wipes, masks if applicable. Put up signs or markings to make it easy for everyone to understand what is expected. If you have guest touchscreens for signing in, consider disabling those to reduce surface contacts. Consider how to make sure employees can social distance at the entry points.
With limited seating and space, a schedule will need to be developed and followed. Consider rotating employee access or prioritizing if some roles are more effective in the office. Some teams may need to be present at the same time for effectiveness. The schedule should be managed and approved, and all access needs to be tracked so you are clear who was at the office at any given time, and what desk they were using.
If you haven’t already made the jump, Office 365 is a great way for remote employees to remain connected and productive from anywhere, giving them quick access to email, shared calendars, and Microsoft Teams. Our Remote Work Solutions page is a great start for learning what employees need to stay productive at home.
Rethink Paper-Based Workflows
Examine internal processes to identify opportunities to reduce physical transmission of documents. This can help increase physical distancing and reduce risk. E-signing tools for approvals, automated workflows and other digitization solutions can help keep your operations efficient in the months to come as you implement a modified office operation.
Our Digital Day1 program is a turnkey and cost-effective approach to helping you transition away from some key paper-based processes. We can provide simple digitization solutions that are secure, backed-up and accessible from any device. Start at day one, then continue at your own comfortable pace. Want to know more? Click here to contact us!
Frequently Touched Surfaces
Automate doors if possible or prop open internal doors where security is not an issue. Light switches could be changed to motion sensors as well. Remove shared supplies like whiteboard markers, food/drink containers, coatrooms and hangers. Regularly disinfect microwave buttons, vending machine interfaces and provide sanitizing wipes near these areas to allow employees to clean before and after each use.
Ongoing Facility Cleaning
Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of common areas, bathrooms, door or cupboard handles, desks, and meeting rooms. Provide supplies for employees to wipe down their own areas, phones, and keyboards regularly. Determine the desired cleaning schedule with your vendor/supplier and include requirements for disinfecting and clearly state how often it should be done. Put a clean desk policy in place for all staff to ensure desks are wiped down. In meeting rooms, make wipes available.
Employees must be aware of their health and you should consider asking staff to confirm their wellbeing before coming into the office each day. It is important to ensure staff understand that they must stay home if they are ill or showing any symptoms of infection. A simple self-assessment questionnaire can help. It will be important to track and monitor continuously to confirm each employee meets acceptable criteria before entering the office.
Dealing with Infection
Despite your best efforts, it’s possible that an employee will begin exhibiting symptoms while at the office. Everyone should be aware of how to handle such a situation. The employee should report symptoms, or co-workers should report if they observe symptoms, to the designated resource (e.g. Manager, HR, Office coordinator) and the employee should leave the building directly. Cleaning of impacted areas should be performed immediately. If a positive diagnosis is confirmed, deep disinfecting should be performed around the office. You should spend some time creating a infection response plan so that your managers and staff know what to do in case of an infection.
Public Health Resources & Further Reading
Check out suggestions and information provided by authorities below to help get you and your workplace better prepared! We have gathered up key resource links for each province.