Many organizations are facing enormous pressure trying to design, implement, and follow plans to successfully and safely get employees back into the workplace. There are a number of questions that should be considered before finalizing a plan, including:
- Can members of the team work effectively from remote locations?
- Can some departments work effectively from remote locations while others need to be in the workplace?
- What would be the impact to morale if employees are mandated to return to the workplace?
- Will employees have to rely on public transportation?
- What would be the impact on employee retention?
- How will this impact existing stress, familial responsibilities, and morale?
If the decision is made that only some employees will be mandated to return to the workplace, consider the following:
- What criteria will be used to decide who needs to return to the workplace?
- Will this policy expose the organization to a claim of disparate impact?
- What impact does this have on perception, morale, and leadership?
The next step is to ensure that the workplace will be set up consistent with guidelines from federal, state, and local agencies. Make sure that members of the leadership team are fully informed and properly trained. This is an evolving process as requirements and recommendations change on a regular basis. Steps should be taken to ensure that the organization remains current on best practices and its obligations.
The next is to address the team:
- Let the team know that steps have been taken to place a premium on safety
- Share the new rules and protocols created to ensure a safe work environment
- Make it clear what is expected of the employees
- Consider the benefits of workplace civility and harassment prevention training, especially if employees have been hired during the pandemic (this is also advisable given the political climate); and
- Treat this as an opportunity to build trust with the team
These are some of the steps that can be taken to help with the transition of getting the team back to work. If you have any questions or need guidance regarding considerations for returning to work, please contact the DGN Workplace Initiatives Director, David Gabor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.