Back to Work After COVID-19
Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Some businesses begin to phase their workforce back into the field as governments and industries restart the global economy. There's a financial incentive to do so. However, in attempting to restart their businesses, the question remains - are they ready, and what worked before, will it work again?
Whatever the company's individual strategy, times have changed, and there needs to be a look at the method that the company will adhere to moving forward. A robust 'people-centered' approach must be at the center of most companies' restart.
Aligning Leadership: The new norm also requires a new way of leading the workforce. Organizations must understand that leaders will be challenged with operating in the new standard or the remote working environment. Some leaders thrive on engaging face-to-face with their teams; they enjoy the banter, and the way they communicate, coach, and improve their teams will be gone. Moving to be reliant on videoconferences, email, phone calls, or collaboration tools such as MS Team is only some people's forte. It's essential that this is acknowledged and that proper resources are also allocated to the leadership team's priorities and tools to manage the new workplace.
Aligning employees: After months of sitting at home, I think businesses will be surprised that employees will be happy to be back in the office, to be able to contribute and feel a greater sense of worth, to be out of their house or apartment and to be interacting again with their colleagues. Are employees aware of the risks that they'll face when they're back at work? Has the organization implemented the engineering and administrative requirements to keep people safe? Do employees need more access to company resources such as the employee assistance program? Some of our colleagues may have lost loved ones or have mental 'scars' from being locked away for so long. The leadership team must properly assess what will be needed to support employees when they return to the workplace and dedicate the resources to ensuring reintegration - just as they would when they first onboarded those employees.
Adherence to Government Guidelines: Every country in the world has slightly different rules and regulations. The standard social distancing - 1.5 meters or 2 meters, barrier or no barrier, facemask or no facemask, vaccination or no vaccination - how do global companies find a common strategy that fits all their business, or is that even necessary? Will the company redesign its job tasks and work environment to adhere to government guidelines? The strategy and approach that is taken will depend on the nature of the business. Business owners need to focus on compliance locally and ensure that local management is empowered to implement the measures required for compliance while ensuring best practices and understanding the company's operational, cultural, and logistical realities.
Aligning Safety Culture: Within all companies, there's a safety culture and even a subculture. Whether we like it or not, there's going to be a perception amongst the workforce about how the company handled the response to the virus. It is inevitable that there will be groups or individuals that feel that the company could take the virus better - as a leadership team, it's crucial that you acknowledge that only some decisions or actions that impacted the workforce may have been perfect. This will give you a stepping stone to improve; they engage with the crew about the next steps, improve overall perceptions of the workforce, and define the strategic priorities for restarting the business.