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What’s Next?

*things to think about post-COVID-19-quarantine*

I’ve been heavily contemplating what our new work-world is going to look like. I know you have too!

Of course, I’m HR so I’ll share with you resources about how to prep your workplace before employees come back and what to do if someone who’s working is diagnosed with COVID-19 but the contemplation is from a 29,029 ft (that’s the height of Mt. Everest...if you know me you know why I chose that one).

For most of us, our lives have changed drastically. We’re working from home. We wake up, get ready (hopefully haha) and then go 10, 20, or 40 feet to our “office.” Our breaks consist of hanging out with our families, making a quarantine-snack (or three) or taking a walk in the sunshine. We take meetings via Zoom from our dining room tables. There’s no commute, no offices, no high heels, and no suits. There’s SWEATS (probably atop a dress shirt for those video calls)! And all of this...people are getting used to this new work-world we’re living in.

So when this all ends, are we expected to kick it into high gear and go back to that life before?

It’s like we’ve gone 100 to zero back to 100. Is that healthy for you, for your team, for your company?

So here are the things I think leaders should begin thinking about for the next wave of change:

#1 Your employees may not want to come back
Here’s where I encourage business owners and leaders to take a step back and ask yourselves if your employees NEED to come back to the office. Is it ABSOLUTELY necessary? Did your team perform well from home? Do they WANT to continue to work from home? Oh...and are they SCARED to come back this soon?

If there is no reason why they can’t continue to work from home, then why not allow them to? Make sure to have a telecommuting agreement in place (if you don’t already) and monitor performance. It’s that simple. There are productivity tools you can deploy on their computers as well as some safety and security measures you can put in place. AND simply said, if performance goes down, WFH is taken off the table. Easy peasy.

Here’s another viewpoint. If we force employees to come back given WFH worked well during this time, then we lose trust and credibility. If it doesn’t make sense to them then well...it doesn’t make sense and it looks like a bad decision.

What I’m getting at is if it isn’t necessary and you trust your employees, then don’t force anyone to come back. If it can work long term, it’s a great benefit, can reduce turnover and increase overall morale.

#2 Your employees may want to come back or HAVE TO
Let me give a nod to those who are stir crazy right now and want to get back to the office. Allll the stuff I said above about being at home, they may actually super dislike it. They may really miss getting out of the house and love being around people. Hello, extroverts! 😉

And what if your employees don’t have the ability to work from home and they have to come back? (Like those in the retail or hospitality industry.)

Employees could be afraid of contracting COVID-19 and they may not want to come back. The best we can do as businesses and leaders is PROTECT our people. Before you request employees to come back to work, prepare a full communication plan on how you’ll be preparing for their return.

In either scenario, here are some guidelines on how you can get the workplace ready for their return...

The CDC released “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” which has information on preparing workplaces for an outbreak, reducing transmission among employees, maintaining healthy business operations, and work environment. Lot’s of great info.

Also, they have info on how to clean the workplace and a whole “how to” on face coverings. Oh and if you want some fashionable face masks check out Upper Echelon’s. I ordered myself a few.

If you want something a little less wordy then the CDC’s info, our friends at Fisher Phillips have “5 Steps To Reopen Your Workplace, According To CDC’s Latest Guidance” as well as “4 Step Plan to Handle COVID-19 Cases when your Business Reopens.”

#3 Adjust your workspaces (and leases) accordingly
All things considered, your workspace will change. With physical distancing still required and perhaps less staff reporting in the office to work, evaluate whether or not you need the same type of space. Will you need that many offices? Will you even need offices? How about considering an open workspace, kinda like your own little WeWork. Perhaps these types of changes will save you money.

You’ll still need to keep your team connected even if they are physically apart, so keep using or start using, platforms like Teams, Trello, Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. Video calls are great (except Fridays, let the team have a true casual day at home = no hair doing). Keep those up. Explore new ways to spend time together like video lunch times, video happy hours or quick notes/games like a “question of the day.”

Whatever happens next...happens next. The best thing we can do is adjust accordingly and plan, plan, plan. Start that now.

And, whatever you decide to do as an organization, a leader, or a manager, I know you’ll do it with kindness and care.

And if you don’t know what to do, you know we’re just a call away.

- LeiLani Quiray, CEO of be the change HR, Inc. (also a human trying to figure out what’s next)

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