It’s an understatement to say that COVID-19 has changed people’s lives. That includes the way in which they return to the workplace. As jobs begin to welcome employees back on-site, employers now face a larger burden in terms of providing a safe work environment. Employers are expected to aid in protecting the health of their employees (and visitors), but most want to do so in minimally disruptive ways. Here is a closer look at the importance of this responsibility and how to meet it.
While many employees have been able to be productive while working from home, the majority admit that being in the office is critical to facilitate building relationships and collaborating with team members. That’s only one reason that three in four executives believe that at least half of their office staff will be on-site by July 2021. (Interestingly, just six in 10 employees expect to spend at least half of their work time in the office by that point.) While many employees want to work remotely several days a week, the majority expect and in fact want to work in the office at least part of the time. To do so, however, they must feel safe at work. That said, only half of workers feel that their workplaces are safe.
It’s up to employers to ensure that precautions and strategies are put in place to help welcome employees back and keep them there safely. That may include adjusting the layout of your office, such as moving workstations and seating so that staff can maintain 6 feet or more of distance from each other. If it’s impossible to spread out, physical dividers such as plastic barriers and improved ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading germs. Regular cleaning of office surfaces such as desks, doorknobs, shared meeting rooms, and phones is critical. Following other protocols to help reduce the spread of transmittable diseases is also necessary.
Making sure that employees are healthy can help reduce the risk to everyone, yet most employers want to do so in a way that is not troublesome or invasive to maintain productivity. Employers should have policies that promote staying at home when employees feel any symptoms. They can also ask employees to fill out simple self-certification forms to confirm that they are feeling their best and haven’t been knowingly exposed to a communicable disease such as COVID-19.
Some workplaces are using thermographic equipment to detect elevated skin temperatures among people in a group, without the need to test their temperature individually. Handheld thermometers that can read the skin temperature of an employee via the forehead or wrist is another method. Other technological advances include wearable patches that monitor health information that can be shared with employers. More than half of employees say they are willing to wear such devices and share that data if it doesn’t cost anything. The following infographic goes into more detail about the need for this kind of employee screening.
Graphic created by Northland Controls.