Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have probably heard more than one person express their desire for “everything to go back to normal.” However, safely reintegrating your employees from working remotely to back in the office requires careful planning and long-term changes. Think of it as the new normal.

You can adapt your workplace to accommodate safe, short-term goals while establishing protocols that will ensure long-term safety, productivity, and the achievement of cost-saving goals.

Safety Precautions

While social distancing is key to reestablishing a safer work environment, it does fly in the face of what many of us have become accustomed to during the last 20 years of increasing workplace density. Employing new strategies will help you maintain safe distances between work stations while still maintaining your desired level of efficiency, productivity, and even collaboration.

One such strategy is to incorporate some remote work, which will help you stay within budget. Another is to stagger office shifts so everyone is not in the office at the same time. You can also create a rotation schedule for those shifts, so that everyone is able to work their desired shift so many days out of the week or month.

Maintain High Standards

Before employees return to work, make sure that the entire workplace is properly sanitized and disinfected. See the CDC Guidelines and the OSHA Website for ongoing guidance. When they return, promote the benefits of social distancing, proper hygiene, frequent hand washing, wearing protective masks, and staying home when you are sick.

Routine housekeeping practices will be accelerated for both individual workstations and common areas. See the EPA Website for protocols and a list of approved cleaning and disinfecting products.

Take advantage of established remote work protocols, such as online meetings to maintain social distancing requirements.

Have a Plan for a Possible Resurgence

Since there has been evidence of a resurgence in several areas throughout the country, it’s important to be prepared should another quarantine be necessary. The World Health Organization is continuing to encourage all businesses to maintain teleworking with nonessential employees. Make sure that all of your other employees are prepared to resume remote work at any time.

If you are prepared to welcome your employees back with clear, consistent guidelines for the new normal, soon the safer, more efficient way of doing things will just become normal.