4 Ways to Prioritize Employee Safety When They Return to Work

As people begin making their way out of their homes and back to the office, companies will need to take extra steps to ensure that their employees are protected.

While some of these changes – like eliminating in-person meetings, spacing workspaces, or providing personal protective equipment – can be implemented with precise messaging and careful planning, other initiatives will require more strategic investments.

Here are four steps companies should take as they plan to bring employees back to the office.

#1 Control access to workspaces.
Controlling group size is a critical component of restricting the spread of COVID-19. For instance, modeling suggests that the risk of exposure grows exponentially as group sizes increase, meaning companies will want to take intentional steps to reduce the number of people entering the office.

When possible, companies can continue providing remote work opportunities to reduce on-site personnel and offer an alternative for employees still unsure about returning to the office. Since more than half of your workforce likely wants to continue working remotely anyway, this is an easy way to reduce the number of people on-site.

Of course, offices have a steady stream of traffic that involves more than just employees. Everything from delivery drivers to maintenance workers regularly visit office spaces, potentially exposing people to the virus.

In response, companies can install a video intercom system that enables workers to evaluate guest entries before granting access. This technology allows receptionists and other team members to communicate with guests before granting access to the office.

#2 Screen personnel & visitors.
As employees come and go, screening personnel and visitors is critical to keeping infected or contagious people out of the office. Although employers can’t ask employees health-specific questions, recent CDC guidance clarifies how companies conduct temperature screenings, check for symptoms of COVID-19, and exclude people who exhibit signs of the virus.

With the right technology, companies can streamline this process, relying on thermal cameras and wellness checks to prevent infected people from entering the workplace.

#3 Log personnel and visitors for contact tracing.
Contact tracing is one of the most frequently cited measures for stopping the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, people are often unreliable when it comes to remembering their daily movements, putting the responsibility on businesses to develop a capacity to contact trace on-site personnel and visitors.

Technology companies are racing to create apps capable of this task, but, as reopening begins, every organization will need systems and processes for ensuring timely and accurate contract tracing data.

#4 Implement digital signage for dynamic social distancing guidelines.
In-office logistics will necessarily look different when people return to work. For example, the CDC recommends using different doors for entering and exiting buildings and many other changes to physically separate employees.

In addition, workers will need constant reminders to adopt best practices. To support these efforts, implement digital signage to provide dynamic social distancing guidelines and information updates. This technology is flexible, allowing companies to update rules and directions as the situation evolves. Digital signage can also be more engaging, increasing the likelihood that employees see and adhere to the information presented.

A Closing Note
Everyone is eager to return to normal. However, our urgency can’t allow us to be reckless or indifferent. Management’s top priority must be the health and safety of its people. This issue comes with moral, ethical, and legal implications, making it essential that every organization take steps to secure their employees when they return to work.

At IST, we are ready to support your organization as it makes the transition back to the office. We will analyze your environment and existing systems, ensuring that you are prepared to welcome employees back to the office when the moment is right. Contact us today for a complimentary “New Normal” gap assessment.