Return to office (RTO) is a coordinated plan to safely bring back employees and contractors to the workplace. When the World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19 a worldwide wellbeing emergency in March 2020, numerous companies globally had to switch to remote working. With the Covid pandemic now coming under control and vaccination drives being sped up, employees are considering and longing to get back to business as usual. A return to office plan needs to consider numerous country specific, regional and local factors.
Before Covid 19 employees' major concern at work used to be deadlines and targets, but with offices now opening up post covid it is imperative that they are ready, planned and safe to step into the workspaces keeping in mind precautions to be taken.
The first step to return to office is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of employees. Conduct safety surveys, that enabled employees provide their thoughts on return to office. The Return-to-Office survey will gauge their thoughts on the matter, their understanding of the protocols in place, and queries about their wellbeing during remote work.
Employees willing to return to office should fill-in a COVID compliance checklist which will require responses to some pertinent questions such as the employee’s vaccination status, history of contraction, travel history, whether they are suffering from any symptoms of COVID as well as its severity, and an option to upload relevant documents for legitimacy
Employees, managers, and HR should be provided with a communication channel to keep each other in the loop with regard to employee requirements, reports of untoward incidences, contact tracing in the case of an outbreak, and provide a support system to ease everyone’s journey throughout this time.
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Employees should be able to enter their workplace without having to swipe their cards on their way in or register their names in notebooks. To avoid multiple touchpoints, organizations can set up QR code at the office's location to check-in and check-out.
At the end of the day employees can be asked a set of questions that will gauge their experience at the office, whether protocols were followed and safety measures undertaken.
If incase, any untoward incidences are reported by employee's an immediate follow up with the concerned individual should be done and if the employee tests COVID positive, HR should reach out to the concerned employee regarding any assistance and intimate about further plan of action as per the directions of the Centre of Disease Control.
The COVID-19 pandemic is past its one-year mark. Organizations of all sizes around the world were unprepared to deal with the severity of it back then, but after a year of struggles, trials, and innovation, are more prepared than they could have been before. It is clear now that employee safety and wellbeing take precedence over everything else.
The shift to remote work, although a tremendous one, wasn’t going to remain permanent. It was the perfect reset button for organizations to redesign the workplace, have the safety procedures in place, and build a safe and resilient work environment.
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