How Employers Should Respond to Plans for Potential State Re-Openings

With 45 states now relaxing business restrictions, employees and employers alike are looking at how best to respond to plans for potential state re-openings. 

Certain areas, like Kansas City, have launched ‘soft’ re-openings, with the 10/10/10 rule stating that businesses can only have 10% of staff or ten staff in the office at any given time. Non-essential companies that aren’t public-facing, such as advertising firms and offices, will be able to participate in these soft openings, but will still need to follow social distancing regulations.

With COVID-19 restrictions now becoming less stringent for most states, many employers are wondering how best to react and make a smooth transition back to some in-office work. Here are some tips for how employers should respond:

How Should Businesses Adapt to Potential State Reopenings?

Businesses should be prepared to adapt to office re-openings with social distancing regulations in place. While our modern open-office plans might not cater to a COVID-19 environment, it’s essential to modify working environments to allow for six-feet social distancing rules. 

Suggestions for altering office environments include spacing desks out, inserting partitions between desks, or staggering shift patterns and working hours to spread out the number of people in the office.

Reinforcing IT Tools

While many businesses have transferred tech tools to remote work setups, transitioning them back onsite might be challenging. Many of our meetings have been replaced by Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and navigating the transition period where half of the office might be in one meeting room, the rest remote working, could be challenging. While some new remote-working tools may be worth retaining, IT networks maintained onsite will still need to be set up securely when people return to their offices. 

Hire Workers to Fill the Gaps

As an employer, you’ve undoubtedly had to make difficult decisions concerning furloughs and layoffs. Many companies put staff on unpaid leave, not knowing if they’d ever return to work. If you’re finding that you have employment gaps and don’t have furloughed staff to fall back on, don’t be afraid to hire workers to fill the positions. 

If you have some new employees joining, make the most of remote drug and health screenings to ensure your candidates are both qualified and healthy enough to work onsite. It’s an employer’s market right now, with a broader talent pool to choose from, so hiring is a smart business move for many.

Look at Future Remote Roles

Remote workers represented 50% of the workforce in April. With COVID-19 highlighting that some roles can be fully completed from home, it will be essential to review specific tasks and see whether the job is better-conducted remotely. 

Are you improving relationships with your employees by giving them the freedom to work from home? Increasing flexible working arrangements with staff will improve retention, productivity, and employee loyalty.

Strengthening Company Culture

Many companies like PwC have hypothesized what transitioning back to the office could look like and how their staff can be supported. Many offices have instituted virtual catch-ups and coffee breaks to keep communication flowing. Looking at how culture will develop as states gradually re-open will help employers keep the transitions from remote to office moving with relatively little impact on company cohesiveness. Many companies have also invested in mental health software like Headspace to look after the mental health of their teams.

While some local re-openings are underway in locations like Kansas City, for many hard-hit places like New York, the discussions surrounding re-openings are more long-term and complex. Through strengthening company culture and IT networks, employers can maintain a strong business while still adapting to the disruption and transition of the eventual return to the office.