The swift implementation of the stay-at-home orders due to the wide-spread of COVID-19 coronavirus greatly impacted business operations. Now, businesses are beginning to consider a return to offices. As offices reopen, employees will be looking out for the implementation of new procedures that take into account their health and safety. In this article, we are going to explore the five things that employees want as offices reopen.


1. Flexible Return Policy

All employees may not want to return at once. Even as the government encourages the return to the office, many employees are not psychologically able to leave their home offices and commute to work. For some, it could be the presence of an underlying health condition that could make it dangerous for them to venture out. Others may be engrossed in domestic responsibilities created by the effect of the lockdown such as caring for kids. One of the major obstacles for many employees will be childcare and the lack of safe options available. Business leaders should consider implementing a return-to-work strategy that allows employees to have options such as a staggered return on a voluntary basis.


2. Review of OSHA Workplace Safety Guidelines and Company Policies

Company policies as regards workplace safety need to be updated. OSHA recently issued guidance on how employees’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 can be reduced by employers, including developing an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan. This plan should factor in potential risk factors for infection and the controls necessary to address them.


Part of OSHA guidance included the practice of good hygiene and housekeeping. The cleaning service or on-staff maintenance team needs to review their routines to ensure they’re using effective and EPA-approved disinfectants to fight COVID-19.


3. Integration of Technology to Maintain Social Distancing

Employees will like to count on technology to play a crucial role in monitoring social distancing within office premises. Ell-integrated technologies ensure occupancy thresholds and prevent overcrowding in highly containment areas. Companies can invest in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to monitor the social distance between two individuals. For example, social monitoring tools can indicate when the expected distance is not maintained. These data can also be used in redesigning office layout.


4. Travel Policy

If employees routinely traveled to client meetings or industry shows, they will be looking for a review in the office policy that will make them comfortable with these kinds of travels. Even as restrictions are lifted, it will take some time before employees become comfortable with traveling again.


5. The Flexibility of Work Location

With many companies embracing the remote work model, employees will be increasingly looking for opportunities to work from home. Most employers should be prepared for their employees to request more flexibility regarding where they work. The lockdown experience has shown that businesses can still operate without employees using shared office space. The focus of returning to work will be centered on a strategy that allows employees to feel safe and secure. It is important to consider that employees are all coping with this pandemic differently when considering a return to the office.


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