COVID-19 restrictions are easing around Australia, and while many of us have adapted to working remotely, companies and organisations around the country are preparing to reopen their workplaces.It's a welcome change for many businesses that have been severely disrupted by remote working. For some, being back in the office may boost productivity, and face-to-face collaboration could inject some new inspiration. At the very least, you'll be able to socialise (distantly).
However, returning to work won't necessarily be a return to normal. Every business is different, and each faces a unique set of challenges when preparing to reopen its doors. Deciding when, and how to reopen business will be a decision unique to each organisation.
Here are a few things to consider to help make your move back to the workplace easier and safer.
Facilities and Equipment
Be aware that your workplace is likely to look different than how you left it. The way you use the space and equipment will also be different.
- You may need to sign in when you arrive at work, and if you have clients or visitors, you may need to sign them in and out as well.
- Ensure social distancing between yourself, employees and visitors.
- Be aware of how many people are allowed in meeting rooms or collaborative spaces and maintain safe distancing.
- If your workplace has elevators, you'll likely be waiting longer than usual to allow for social distancing inside the elevator.
Health and Safety
Your workplace will have plans and protocols in place, but you also have a responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of yourself and your colleagues.
- Follow the protocols that are in place for using and sanitising desks, doors, meeting rooms and bathrooms.
- Sanitise your phone and other personal and shared equipment. Did you know a mobile phone has more bacteria than a standard public toilet?!
- Your work should be providing things like face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and alcohol wipes. If they're not, you can ask.
While client and team meetings, one-on-ones, and even Friday afternoon drinks have all become common-place via video, continuing communication when returning to work is just as important for your transition back.
- Adapting to this new way of working will take time, don’t hesitate to voice any questions you have or suggestions for improving workplace safety or boosting morale.
- Communicate any concerns you have about returning to work.
- If you feel unwell, let your manager know and stay home, even if the symptoms are minor.
Social isolation can cause feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety. Any feelings of anxiety or stress related to adapting to new situations as a result of COVID-19 should be taken seriously.
- If you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, seek help from your manager, a colleague, loved one or a professional.
- Look out for any colleagues who may be struggling.
- Maintain communication and offer support to those continuing to work remotely.