Workplace Technology

Returning to the workplace after COVID-19: The role of technology

As many countries ease up their lockdown restrictions, many organizations are in the process of preparing to return to the physical workplace. Here’s how to ensure a smooth transition that places staff safety and wellbeing as top priority.

August 14, 2020
Angelique Parungao

Numerous countries around the world are lifting lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home orders, allowing life to slowly transition into a ‘new normal’ with social distancing guidelines in place. With these recent developments, businesses are preparing the start of their post-COVID 19 recovery journey and returning to the physical workplace. 

At this first stage, health and safety sit as top priority, and the ability to foster trust from employees as you navigate the transition is crucial. This centers around communicating the return to work inclusively and clearly, while ensuring that new policies and equipment are in place to maintain a safe yet productive environment. With that in mind, the power of a digitally-enabled way of work will be crucial. Here’s how it comes into play.

Ensuring safety is a top priority

Create digital checklists for equipment needed

The first step to restarting operations is to ensure you have all the right precautionary equipment in place, such as PPE, sanitary masks, hand sanitizers and sanitizing equipment. Digital workflows and online project management tools are a great way to streamline this process, enabling collaborative checklists to keep track of orders and implementation stages. With an efficient process for equipment check, you can ensure everything is in place and ready.

Digitize training for new safety procedures

Move away from crowded training sessions by using a digital employee platform to create a central repository of manuals, such as how and when PPE should be used. This ensures everyone has access to the training information and will be able to effectively adhere to the new measures. 

Transition to a digitally-enabled way of work

At this stage, it’s necessary to introduce new operational adjustments and workplace practices that are as contactless as possible. Replace paper-heavy and meetings-focused operations with digital workflows and online task management systems that offer a contactless way of working that retains high levels of efficiency and productivity.

Communicating the return

Announcing the workplace opening clearly and inclusively

The backbone to support a seamless transition back to work is a clear, transparent line of communication. Leverage a digital communication tool that allows you to reach every single employee instantly to minimize confusion, ease anxieties and establish trust in management during this transitional period.

Ensure everyone knows the new policies  

Keep everyone in the loop and use your digital employee platform to announce and send notification regarding the updated guidelines. It’s also recommended to keep your new policies, FAQs, and documents in a centralized e-Library where everyone can access it anytime they need to. 

Managing employee wellbeing in the ‘new normal’

Use digital tools to manage ‘blended’ teams

During this early stage, it’s likely that you will have some team members in the workplace and others still working from home. A great way to ensure productivity and collaboration across both your on and off site teams is by using your virtual project tools. These allow for tasks to be assigned digitally to make sure that everyone stays on track of their projects and has full visibility and accountability on their progress. Utilize group chats alongside this to quickly coordinate with your dispersed team members.

Conduct check-in with your employees

In a survey done by customer experience company Qualtrics, two out of three people (66%) are not comfortable going back to the workplace right now. The anxiety over their safety at work remains as one of the top reasons why employees still wish to continue their work at home. 

As an employer, keep your team’s mental and physical health as your top priority at this time. 

Conduct online feedback surveys to have an ongoing channel to address staff concerns transparently and promptly.

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