4 Things To Consider In Creating A Safe Workplace For Re-Opening
Businesses and offices across our state are slowly re-opening, but knowing the right path to follow presents challenges. The differences in opinion on this topic often lead to a lack of clarity, so how do we approach moving forward?
Ultimately, we understand that these questions do not have any “right” answer, however, we have put together some points of consideration. When BWBacon approached re-opening our office, we discussed the following factors to help us create a safe workplace. Our leadership team discussed sanitary and mask-wearing practices, continued social distance concerns, while still implementing compassion and patience for our team.
Proceed With Caution
Expect changes to interrupt your re-opening planning. As it stands, Governor Polis has said offices can re-open at 50% capacity. This looks different depending on your business’ size and how often employees need to come to the office to communicate with one another. Polis stated last month:
“This is not any kind of ‘mission accomplished’ moment. It just means we avoided a catastrophe. We’ve avoided a breach of our healthcare system, we’ve avoided mass loss because we didn’t have enough medical capacity, but we are far from back to normal. In fact, we need to continue even more so to be vigilant, to wear masks when we are outside and in public, so we can move safely through this next phase.” – May 7th, The Denver Post
The Colorado Department of Public Health released a thirty four page document setting guidelines and standards for businesses and retailers to re-open, you can find this document here. Flexibility is the name of the game in this case. We encourage business leaders to realize we are all learning about this virus as time goes on, and have to adapt accordingly. Be prepared to adjust your safe workplace plan as new information comes out.
Sanitation And Safety Concerns
There are extensive resources from OSHA, the CDC Interim Guidance for Business and Employers, and State-specific guidelines for different industries on what elements should be included in your re-opening plans from a sanitation and safety standpoint. Creating a safe workplace means planning for additional requirements, including wearing masks in common areas and increased sanitation of high use surfaces. It’s also important to examine the different guidelines within varying levels of government, for example, Denver has its own guidelines for re-opening that slightly vary from those for Colorado State in general.
BWBacon is also asking our employees to bring their own lunch containers or coolers, and wear their masks in common areas of the office. Our office building has temperature testing and sanitation stations, and these are a part of recommended re-opening guidelines. As we’re all used to working in close quarters and collaborating, the shift to “doorway” conversations might feel odd at first, but the health and safety of our team comes first.
Extend Your Flexible Work Options
Once you’ve read the resources and collected what specifically pertains to your workplace, establishing a written response plan is a great first step. Creating protocols and response plans, even if they change, enable you to approach specific issues surrounding COVID-19 in a process-driven way.
How will your business respond if someone is feeling sick? How will your business respond if someone is unable to come into the office due to personal health concerns? Will you provide masks or are employees expected to provide their own? Open this discussion to your leadership team and employees alike, their opinions and personal research might add components you had not considered.
Extending your flexible work options will decrease your employees’ level of stress and concern about returning to work. State openly that your company is flexible, and willing to work with individuals that may express a higher level of concern, or do not want to return to the office. Keep in mind the added value and effectiveness of remote work overall. While we are also eager to re-connect with our teams, understanding that things will not return to normal overnight is important.
This leads us to our final point of consideration, practicing compassion. A safe workplace is only safe if people are able to feel heard and understood. Those with pre-existing health conditions or at-risk family members may not be able to return to the office, and making sure their voices are heard should fold into your overall response plan.
A poll taken in late April revealed that “64% of Coloradans support a policy of staying home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, even if that means businesses will remain closed.” This is important to note, while we all miss normalcy, the threat of coronavirus is pervasive and ongoing.
Some offices are not even attempting to re-open until the fall, cautiously holding their breath for what’s to come. We hope this piece provided an outline for how to approach creating a safe workplace and re-opening your office space, whenever you choose to do so.
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!