Risk Management

How to Create a Return-to-Work Plan

/ April 30, 2020 April 30, 2020

COVID-19 has caused many businesses to shut down or transition their employees to work from home, disrupting daily work life for many. As stay-at-home regulations are scaled back and all businesses are allowed to resume as normal, employers must look to the future of employees returning to work. Echoing the sentiments of public health officials, a return to normalcy won’t be like flipping a switch, but rather a gradual effort. In preparation for reopening your business and asking employees to come back to work, it’s imperative that your company thoughtfully constructs a return to work plan for its employees to keep everyone healthy and safe following the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few key things to consider when creating a return to work plan: 

  • Anticipated return to work date—With the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought, it’s important to give clear information and dates when employees are to return to work whenever possible. Be sure to be flexible with your dates, though, as local and state orders are frequently updated. 
  • Office safety measures—Because COVID-19 can remain on surfaces long after they’ve been touched, it’s important that your business frequently cleans and disinfects the facility. Ensure a cleaning crew is properlmaintaining this and offer sanitizing equipment for employees to use as they need. It’s also important to ensure social distancing continues in the office and employees maintain enough physical space to avoid spreading illness. To do this, employers may have to rearrange office furniture, limit the number of employees in the office and opt for virtual events instead of in-person ones.  
  • Employee safety training—Your return to work plan should include detailed safety training guidance to ensure that all employees understand how they can prevent the spread of COVID-19. This can include best hygiene practices, wearing PPE out of the house and encouraging employees to stay home if they feel unwell. Additionallyconsider conducting screening procedures to identify potentially ill employees before they enter the office. A log should be kept of temperatures to track trends and as per federal law, the identity of workers exhibiting a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms should only be shared with members of company management with a true need to know. Be sure to notify employees that you will be screening them to avoid any surprises. 
  • Adapting to changes—Due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, rules and regulations are constantly changing. You should be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations. This could involve identifying alternative suppliers, prioritizing existing customers or suspending portions of your operations. Additionally, be flexible with employees as their individual needs may have changed (ie. lack of childcare, sick family member). 

Remember, reopening your business after the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t as simple as opening your doors. As this is a constantly changing situation, you must carefully evaluate each step of reopening and gradually ask employees to return to work. This task may seem daunting, but we’re here to help every step of the way. For more information, download our Sample Return to Work Action Plan.

As always, feel free to contact Exude for support in ensuring your organization has a smooth transition back into the office.