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Chances are your business has been affected by COVID-19. For those companies who had to shut down their operations, and are in the process of opening back up; or, the business that moved operations out of their location and had their employees work remotely and are recalling their employees, this situation is unprecedented. This month, we thought we would take a look at some of the factors surrounding this process, and how they will affect your staff.
The number one thing any business owner has to understand is that their employees--especially ones that have been working from home--are scared to death of getting sick. This presents some serious problems. Think of it this way, your business enters an agreement that doesn’t have finite terms. All of the negative scenarios that could happen while under this agreement is the risk you take entering into the agreement. For your staff, coming back to the office without the assurances that COVID-19 is under control is risk. If you plan on bringing your staff back to an office or a workplace, you will need to address the elephant in the room. Explain why you decided to bring them back and what steps you are taking to ensure their collective and individual safety.
Know from the top that if your sole reason that you want to recall your staff is that you don’t trust them working from home, consider that there are many businesses that closed down and will never re-open. If your staff wasn’t producing up to your expectations from home, consider how bringing them back into the workplace with no assurances that they won’t be exposed in some way to COVID-19 will affect productivity. This leads us to our next point.
Can your business function with your employees working from home? Have they responded to the crisis thus far? Do you have definitive productivity metrics that make you think that recalling them is completely necessary? COVID-19 is far from over in much of the US and acting like everything is behind us is irresponsible. If remote work is the new normal, then adjusting expectations to that normal is much better than having a workforce that is terrified to come to work.
Obviously, some essential businesses have been open the entire time and many workers for those companies have been able to avoid catching COVID-19. How did they manage that? By providing a workplace where their employees are safe. That means maintaining a six-foot distance between employees, requiring masks, and educating employees on the best ways to avoid catching the virus in the first place.
You should provide everything necessary to keep your employees safe. If they’ve been working from home this whole time, it might be fairly difficult to get them to see your motives as anything but selfish, but if you provide masks, sanitized workspaces, and plenty of soap, it may work to your benefit.
It’s hard to upend your life, get settled in again, and then be forced to upend it again. For the worker that has been working from home for months, there may be some issues that have surfaced over those months, especially if they have had the misfortune of losing loved ones because of COVID-19. Have a mental health strategy for your staff. Everything may not be the same for them than when you sent them home, so having some support available can go a long way toward helping people cope with everything that the pandemic brought.
Some organizations are recalling employees that don’t have children, allowing the ones that do to continue working from home. This is not likely to sit well with the people that are coming into work. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides qualified people to have extended medical leave depending on their circumstances. If you are dead set against letting your workers work from home, or if the job won’t allow for that anyway, make sure to have a set of rules for everyone.
Chances are your business will have some bumps in the road until there is a vaccine for COVID-19. You aren’t alone. Check back next month for more information about how businesses are dealing with the technology issues surrounding the pandemic.