Will you be ready?
It appears that business may begin operating again sooner than we may have thought. It is thus important for employers and managers to think ahead, and not think of going back to work as simply flipping a switch. There will be significant differences from “before” and there are issues that you can think about and address now in order to make the transition to opening operations easier to implement.
Figure out how you will configure your office and your staff schedules in order to incorporate both physical and temporal distancing, so as to fulfil your obligation to provide a safe workplace environment. Take into consideration where people carry out their work and how they will move around the space from that place to the kitchen, coffee machine, photocopier, fax machine and washroom. Consider how that movement will work and set up the space and schedules so that minimal contact points will exist.
Develop a policy to deal with people other than employees who come to the workspace, such as delivery people, technical suppliers, mail carriers, etc. What will these people have to do in order to gain access to the building and your space? To what extent will they need to be asked to answer questions about their health and their circumstances, e.g. recent travel they have undertaken? Prepare signage that alerts visitors to the rules you put in place.
Decide how you are going to test staff and others BEFORE they enter the workplace, to determine that they are not carrying the infection. Asking questions is one way. Taking temperatures is another. But are you competent to interpret the raw data? And what do you do with the results, if storing the data may violate the individual’s rights to privacy?
If your operation is large enough, consider contracting a health-care worker to do this job. If not, ask your landlord if it is willing to do so, on behalf of all in the building.There will be a cost, but it may be less than the cost of staff downtime, a death, a lawsuit triggered by a death, or even a violation of the provincial Workplace Safety rules.
Not All Will Return
Accept the fact that not all staff will return, immediately. Some may be ill or have family members who are. Some might be in quarantine. Some may not feel comfortable using public transit to get to work, no matter how safe you make the office.
Decide what your policy will be in the face of such reticence, and let all staff know early on, so that they can make an informed decision. And consider how you will handle the workload of the absentee(s) and how it’ll be processed.
Provide staff your post-re-opening policies regarding the use of hand sanitizers, hand washing, masks (or alternatives … will a scarf or bandana suffice?) and so forth. Decide if you want to grant additional paid sick days, so as to encourage staff to stay away if under the weather.
These are but a few examples. Take time now to work your way through the expected differences from “before” and have a policy ready for each such change.
Heifetz, Crozier, Law is a Toronto law firm that has for years represented all aspects of the Canadian travel industry. The lawyers at HCL also maintain a non-travel practice, covering litigation, real estate, Wills, corporate/commercial matters, etc. To contact HCL, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.