Going back to your physical workplace post-COVID-19 has brought about a myriad of the legal, employee, and public relations complexities for the workplace.
To guarantee successful hybrid working, vital operational, ethical, and cultural questions need to be answered by employers.
When business crises occur (pandemic-related or not) businesses that come out stronger are those who can flex their business and people to survive the new challenges they face. The unpredictability and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic have compelled the world to adapt to a new way of working. Now, more than ever, it is important to reimagine work and how it is done.
Return to the workplace
As many countries begin to reduce their COVID-19 restrictions, companies are now carefully thinking of how they can keep safe as they reopen their workplaces. For many governments, opening the economy is tied to the speed and success of the COVID-19 vaccination, but how far that will assist employers varies globally. In the US, employers are more likely to be able to compel employees to get vaccinated, but in many countries, employers are legally unable to require employees to be vaccinated before returning to the workplace.
The UK government has made it compulsory for workers in care homes or health environments to be vaccinated, but these exceptions are currently very restricted. For many company heads, the issue of COVID-19 vaccinations is a Pandora’s box filled with legal and employee/public relations complexities that have the potential for discrimination, data protection, personal injury, employment law and a breach of human rights claims.
Before undertaking a radical change to remote working policies, businesses should consider answering the following questions;
- Can the job or delegated assignment be conducted effectively remotely?
- What limits are there on flexible working? Is it interim or lasting or part-time? Is it impeded by the country where the business operates? Is there flexibility in working hours?
- Who will bear the expenses accumulated and equipment for the home? What obligations are there on the business and the employee part in respect of insurance and what control measures does the company have in place to monitor compliance?
- How will the working hours be regulated?
- How will the business maintain culture and interaction with those working remotely and will those new employees get the right level of supervision, direction and opportunity to develop?
- What measures do businesses have in place to take care of their employees’ health and wellbeing?
- What practice is in place for administrators and employees to identify early signs of crises and escalate or support a colleague who needs aid?
- How will people who find remote working challenging or unsafe be supported by the business?
Here are some ways workplaces can keep safe post-Covid
- High touch areas like the doorknobs, push bars and door handles, light switches, carts and baskets, touchscreens, keyboards and credit card machines are to be cleaned and continuously disinfected.
- Deep clean should be carried out weekly using EPA-approved disinfectants that meet CDC requirements for use and effectiveness against viruses, bacteria, and other airborne or bloodborne pathogens.
- Sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer are to be kept in high-traffic spaces like public and employee entrances, restrooms, and common areas.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol should be provided for employees who cannot leave their workstations to frequently clean their hands.
What should businesses do if they suspect an employee had been infected with COVID-19?
With cases on the rise, some of your employees are going to be unavoidably exposed to the coronavirus or even test positive for it.