Resuming Normal Operations at Your Workplace After COVID-19
RCM&D has designed a comprehensive Back to Business Playbook for a wide range of industries including professional services, manufacturing, retail and others. This playbook aims to assist in developing a tailored plan for reopening. If you would like to receive a copy of this report, please complete the form at the bottom of this page and an RCM&D advisor will contact you. The RCM&D team is available to help review your existing plan, offer enhancement and verification, or even to help you build a customized plan tailored to your employees, facilities and operations.
As stay-at-home restrictions begin to be lifted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across the country are beginning to prepare to bring employees back to work. While employees may return to the workplace, there will be a lot of changes in the initial return to work phase. Resumption of workplace activity requires a carefully constructed guideline for all phases of operation in order to protect workers. From initial communications to day one of return-to-work, our team of risk consultants and industry professionals have a developed a plan to ensure the safest and most productive return possible.
Below, we offer a concise but effective overview of necessary considerations to ensure the safe return to your workplace. A more comprehensive guide is available through an RCM&D representative once you complete the form below. This guidance is intended to address wide range of industries to include professional services, manufacturing, retail and others. Although the content doesn’t address every unique industry issue, RCM&D Risk Consulting staff are available to help you meet your individual needs.
We recommend utilizing a phased approach when creating a return to work plan. This can be accomplished by remembering key considerations and implementing a return to work task force. Ensure that your task force includes representatives from all major departments of your business including senior leadership, risk management, finance, facilities, human resources, operations, communications, IT and more.
Preparing Your Business
Before you start bringing staff back to work, you will need to take an honest assessment of your buildings and infrastructure. Many buildings likely sat vacant during the pandemic, so you will need to ensure all mechanical, HVAC, water, fire, safety and other systems are operating properly before allowing employees to return to the workplace.
Social distancing plans and circulation patterns must be put into place and point of use signage will need to be posted around the workplace. Install hand sanitization stations at any highly trafficked area or where there may be many frequently touched items. Consider:
- Identifying circulation patterns for hallways, lobbies, stairwells, etc.
- Adding Plexiglas® shields in any public-facing locations
- Removing chairs, couches and other items that may promote gathering
- Restricting use of any non-essential equipment such as vending machines, room reservation pads, etc.
- Implementing cleaning protocols by department, identifying all frequently touched surfaces such as printers, copiers, forklifts, ladders, elevators, doorknobs, etc.
Preparing the Workforce
Preparing staff for returning to work will be a challenge as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Many employees will be anxious about the return. Prior to allowing employees to return to work, it is important to consider:
- Who should return to work?
- What are the expectations for returning to the workplace?
- Who can effectively accomplish their tasks while working from home?
- How will training be delivered?
- What measures have been implemented to keep employees safe?
Once these questions are answered, it is important to prepare returning staff through effective communication and a thorough return-to-work timeline. This communication is essential in easing concerns of your workforce. Establish and communicate guidelines for:
- Establishing a socially distant workplace.
- Mandating the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Conducting mandatory or voluntary temperature checks.
- Identifying changes to work practices and procedures.
- Implementing stringent sanitation requirements.
Communication should be transparent and focus on the safety and wellbeing of the workforce.
Once returning staff has been identified and notified, a plan for operations will be needed when the workplace is reopened. In order to safeguard employees from being infected by COVID-19, guidelines for the following should be set:
- Restrict visitors to the workplace unless approved by dedicated authority.
- Limit number of customers and clients within a building at a given time.
- Limiting the number of participants and duration of all essential in-person meetings.
- Conduct a touchless transfer of all IT or other equipment for repair.
- Limit business travel to specific locations and through specific modes.
- Determine how and where employee breaks should be conducted.
Other topics to consider when preparing for the resumption of workplace operations are employee training, vendor and contractor guidelines, PTO and sick time policies, and the hiring process during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If an Employee Becomes Sick
If an employee does become sick, it is imperative to establish a protocol to ensure employee safety and prevent a potential spread of COVID-19. Employers should ask that employees who experience symptoms of COVID-19 disclose it so that proper measures around the workplace can be taken. A complete questionnaire for evaluating sick employees and follow-up protocols is available in our full Back to Business guide.
General Work Areas
Public work areas, such as reception, should consider adding a Plexiglas® shield to protect receptionists and other public-facing workers. Additional guidelines for the following areas are discussed in-depth in the full Back to Business guide:
- Frequently touched surfaces
- Individual desks
- Circulation paths
- Shared equipment, tools and vehicles
More than likely, your organization’s maintenance staff was deemed essential and stayed onsite during a lockdown. Our Back to Business guide offers guidelines for these employees, covering topics such as:
- Secure personal items of maintenance employees separately instead of in a shared closet.
- Stagger shift times to limit likelihood of congregation.
- Identify proper cleaning and disinfection measures for tools and equipment.
- Designate vehicles to specific individuals when possible.
- Limit transporting multiple employees in one vehicle.
If your organization uses an outsourced housekeeping service, it is important to review their policies and procedures. Considerations that should be taken for housekeeping staffs include:
- Cleaning & disinfecting products and procedures
- Disinfecting procedures after a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case
- Laundry and trash services
Additional Areas for Consideration
- Security Staff
- Transportation and Vehicle Fleets
- Health Centers or Medical Offices
- Daycare Facilities
We’re Here To Help.
RCM&D’s risk consulting team is highly experienced in developing back-to-business plans for organizations of all types and sizes. Whether you are a fully operational facility bringing ancillary services back online or a fully remote workforce returning to onsite operations, we’re here to help you identify your route to reopening by:
- Developing Internal Programs - We can develop or review custom internal programs targeted for your specific facilities, employees and operations.
- Implementing Infection Control Protocols - Ensure that you are able to not only prevent exposure but also identify, isolate and sanitize in the event of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.
- Social Distance Heat Mapping - Identify areas within your facility that may be a concern for effective social distancing measures. Using those insights, we can help you mitigate concerns through appropriate intervention techniques.
Learn more about the services our Risk Consulting team can provide to help your organization get Back To Business.