To help shape your thinking, here is a comprehensive check list of the sort of things you might be trying to consider.
A good initial step might be to consider whether it’s worth setting up a working party if you don’t already have an employee counsel or equivalent that you engage with. By using all levels in your hierarchy and ensuring you have cross departmental representation, you can begin to segment the work and ensure that communication is far-reaching and as robust as possible.
When are we going to do which phase? Perhaps set up a cross hierarchy working party to define priorities with a remit for members to communicate with one segment of the workforce in order to cascade progress continually. There is oftentimes a benefit in peer to peer level communication and feedback so that everyone in the organisation feels they have ‘skin in the game’.
What mental health issues are we facing with our staff; do we know enough about each person – their values, motivations and worries? Set up dialogues to collect data and be mindful of GDPR and personal, sensitive information. Have we looked at the social and mental health issues of opening and not opening?
Do we need to prime the pump by developing the confidence of other stakeholders? Which stakeholders need to be told about our return and who will be responsible for each group and each client? Do we have any Unions whom we should talk to?
Do we have the correct distancing and attendance management in place? What exactly are we going to enforce and how shall we announce it? What sanctions will we take for breaching safety conditions? Better yet, how can we avoid a breach?
Have we assessed the full business impact of opening and not opening? Who will do this and who is able to assess the risks fully? Do we need external help? Using a normal problem solving technique of what, where, when, who and why and applying this to all the above questions can be helpful. We need to conduct risk assessments for each remote and office-based worker. The UK government has stated that it expects all employers with over 50 workers to publish this data on their website. Remember to display a standard form notice in the workplace to demonstrate that your company is following the government guidance.
What are the safety actions about sanitisation, cleaning and hygiene routines to prevent a second wave of infection? Who will be the new Sanitisation Officer? Are there additional roles to define and allocate, in addition to the normal roles?
Can there be split shifts and, if so, how would these work? How many people are going to be on site at any one time? Can we segment the workforce such that the same people only work onsite with the same individuals each day to limit the number of contacts? Should we purchase screens, masks, sanitisers? How shall we provide hand washing facilities or hand sanitisers at all entry and exit points?
What elements of roles that we have now realised can easily be done remotely could continue to be done remotely? Do we need to think about restructuring to enable roles to be differently defined in line with personal circumstances and needs?
Are our Contracts and Handbooks now fit for purpose, bearing in mind the legislative changes and the working practices that we are now implementing?
Do we need any PPE and, if so, why? How are we going to handle our cleaners and other non-employee/worker services? What supplies will be brought in by our staff and what protocols are we going to ask them to use?
How is parking going to work if individuals are preparing to use their own cars? Who is paying for what, and do we need to facilitate? If so, how will we allocate parking spaces if we do not have sufficient space for everyone that wishes to drive?
What are we going to do about visitors and waiting areas?
Do we need to increase our supplies in certain areas, including cleaning? How and who will do this?
How are we going to keep our staff educated about CV 19 without overloading them or contributing to fears? How will we exercise our duty of care both to those working remotely and those in the workplace?
This is the time when we should review our disaster recovery plan, as we were not prepared when this pandemic hit.
Above all, this is the moment when we need to remember that there is no such thing as over communication. Emotions are running high, individuals are over-extending, that is to say, in psychometric terms, that they are reaching danger levels of what are normally good characteristics, but these can tumble over into excess, causing friction. Therefore, the amount of consultation that needs to be done, prior to bringing people back into the workforce, will be increased, not diminished. Individuals are going to be sensitive about health conditions that they have not hitherto declared, either because they have not previously been asked, or it has not been relevant, but it could have a serious bearing on their willingness to return to the workplace environment. Mental health is going to be one of the top priorities and it might be worth considering the appointment of mental health first aiders. You might also like to read our blog here.
The fact that individuals have found themselves able to work at home has made some employers realise that many things can be done remotely, and this may need a robust restructure to increase staff morale and productivity in ways that previously we might not have contemplated. Here at Integrated Resources we have been paperless and working remotely for the last 19 years, so please let us know if we can help with any of the above or with redesigning your workforce map so that work satisfaction is maximised, along with personal and mental wellbeing.