Essential workplace policies for COVID and beyond

Sherice Sargent, Contributing Writer//August 28, 2020

Essential workplace policies for COVID and beyond

Sherice Sargent, Contributing Writer//August 28, 2020

As the local economy reopens and central Pennsylvania companies welcome employees back to the workplace, it is clear COVID-19 has impacted how business is conducted. For many owners, their business models, operations and revenue streams may be irreversibly altered. While some businesses have remained operational through the pandemic, it is hard to predict when there will be a return to “business as usual.”

There are a number of operational aspects business owners and leaders are reimagining right now, but the physical workplace is top of mind for many. Whether organizations decide to keep employees remote, reopen offices fully or in stages, business owners and HR leaders need to evaluate needs and implement new policies to adapt to the current work environment.

Here are three examples of plans and policies business owners should consider reworking or implementing to ensure company operations continue to positively move forward, while also continuing to make employee and customer safety a top priority.

Define return-to-workplace plans and timing

Understandably, business owners may be eager to make up for lost time and revenue. However, it is crucial to balance this desire with the ramifications of returning to the office too quickly. A comprehensive and adaptable return-to-workplace plan should take into consideration local and state guidelines.

To complicate matters, business leaders with employees in different counties or different states will need to consider guidance in those specific geographic areas and craft policies accordingly. Details surrounding each phase of reopening, if that is the intended approach, potential timing, and what developments may cause plans to change are also important to include. 

When it comes to employees, it is important to consider current CDC or health guidelines and implement the appropriate policies and procedures. Daily screenings of employee temperatures using a contactless thermometer can help assess employee health while also communicating the safety of the entire team is a top priority. Additionally, keeping sanitization essentials such as disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and masks on hand, as well as implementing continued social-distancing guidelines, can help limit the chances of the virus spreading in the workplace. 

Solidify remote-work policies

The pandemic forced many companies to shift to a fully remote workforce. With that shift, some companies had to quickly adapt to new technologies and collaboration tools to ensure team members could remain productive and focused, even when working remotely. 

Evaluating what has worked well in this new telework landscape and what may still need improvements, organizations should revisit remote-work policies and incorporate key findings. Policies should include best practices on cybersecurity, communication, remote management, work-life balance and other considerations to ensure businesses run smoothly and employees remain productive. As with all policies, remote-work guidelines should be evaluated and updated periodically to reflect what is or is not working, using insight from managers and team members where appropriate.

Reevaluate emergency plans

Beyond COVID-19, there are natural disasters that Pennsylvania businesses still must contend with, such as floods and severe storms. Due to the disruptive nature of these phenomena, companies may already have emergency response plans in place to help keep operations running and employees safe. As the coronavirus crisis continues to impact daily life and business operations, company leaders should use key findings from this time to make updates to existing emergency plans, such as how to handle a potential resurgence of COVID-19, or create a plan if one does not exist. 

In addition, emergency response plans should be proactively shared with employees and key stakeholders as appropriate. Plans should lay out a clear chain of command, any necessary emergency functions and responsibilities, evacuation procedures, and employee check-in processes. The more detailed the plan, the better everyone will understand their individual roles, duties and expectations. 

While the full extent of COVID-19’s impact on Pennsylvania’s economy remains unknown at this point, it is likely that a return to normal will be a long, slow process. For business owners, it is essential to evaluate current policies now and adapt them as necessary in order to best ensure the company’s long-term health and success.

Sherice Sargent is a senior human resource specialist with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions. For more information about Insperity, call 800-465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.