Utah has come a long way since the state declared a stay-at-home order in March 2020 to curb the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With vaccines rolling out, there’s a high chance that more businesses will open and require their employees working from home to return to work.
However, fear will be one of the biggest challenges in convincing workers to do so. In a Forrester research last year, over 40% claimed they are scared to get back to the workplace.
What can companies do to allay the fears? Here are three essential tips:
1. Prepare the Office for the New Normal
First of all, business owners and managers need to have a realistic mindset: getting back to normal will take time. In his recent interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Americans may have to continue wearing masks until 2022.
Instead, everyone needs to prepare for the new normal. This is what experts often describe as a sense of normalcy that minds COVID-19 protocol. Companies can use this principle to guide them in preparing the office for the returning workers:
• Ensure that all pieces of equipment or machines are in great shape. Manufacturing companies, for instance, may have to call experts in instrumentation and control for recalibration and maintenance. If they are in mint condition, users are more productive and less likely to spend a lot of time in the workplace.
• Improve the ventilation. Although scientists need to conduct more studies, initial results suggest a link between indoor air and the risk of catching the COVID-19 virus. One of the primary reasons is the viral particles can linger in the air or circulate in the room as it enters the HVAC system, such as air-conditioning units.
For this reason, the CDC recommends offices improve their ventilation and air filtration system, allowing air to move as freely as possible.
• Provide hygiene stations. Offices may need to add more restrooms and handwashing areas. They can place alcohol and hand sanitizers in strategic places, such as near doorknobs and elevators. Their presence may encourage employees to maintain cleanliness in their workspace and hands.
• Think modular spaces. In this COVID-19 era, open-floor plans need to take a rest. Instead, offices should embrace a modular approach. Separate workers with glass partitions or invest in singular desks.
2. Offer Flexibility
In a recent study, over 80% of companies are planning to offer more flexible schedules even after the pandemic. In fact, companies like Twitter and Salesforce have already allowed their employees to work remotely forever.
Businesses in Utah can also consider the same arrangement, especially if much of the work can be performed online. They can also pursue different setups:
• Employees may choose to work in the office on certain days of the week. Perhaps they can be in the workplace twice or thrice a week.
• Companies with limited workspaces can divide the team into two, and they can work in the office alternately.
• Employees can arrive in the office at any time as long as they can complete the tasks for the day.
3. Follow the COVID-19 Protocols
The CDC and other health experts strongly encourage Americans to continue following COVID-19 protocols even if they have already been vaccinated.
Based on research, the available vaccines do not guarantee 100% protection against the virus. A vaccinated person, therefore, can still get infected, although the risks of dying or the disease becoming severe drop significantly.
Moreover, not everyone can be vaccinated. A vaccinated but asymptomatic person can still spread the illness to immunocompromised and older individuals, who may eventually develop a severe form of COVID.
The virus causing the infection constantly mutates, and new variants may appear in the future. The vaccines available today may not be able to stop the infection.
Based on the guidelines, employees may have to wear masks in the office. Recently, the CDC recommends double masking if the mask only has two plies or adding a filter to a cloth mask.
Everyone also needs to wash their hands with soap and water regularly. If these are not available, alcohol and sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are excellent substitutes.
Social distancing also works, according to CDC research. It can limit or even eliminate the risk of transmission. In the workplace, workstations may need to be at least three feet apart.
Businesses may also opt for a virtual instead of face-to-face meeting even in the workplace. They also need to discourage gatherings such as parties and team-building activities now.
Companies cannot fault employees for being scared to go out and return to the workplace. However, they can offer comfort and assurance, and these tips can help them achieve that.