Returning to work during COVID-19?
Posted: May. 25, 2020
Around the world many companies are only now contemplating how to emerge from reduced, or even halted operations. Each and every business owner and employee are wondering if it will be safe, how they will operate, and what will happen as new customers interact with their teams. Governments and workplace safety organizations are doing their best to prepare everyone (customers and staff) for the “new normal” way of operating. But information is disorganized, confusing instructions are issued and changed, and there is no common source of reliable information that is readily accessible for everyone to leverage.
There are two critical factors that will determine the success of your re-opening plans: leadership and operational management plans.
In these confused times leaders face a key challenge with re-opening; how to instill a culture of safety when the risks each team member faces are significantly different from anything they have experienced before. Safety first cultures require strong tone from the top, clear and readily understood instructions, detailed procedures and well understood expectations. Team members who are supported, trained and who acknowledge the importance of their role in practicing safe work practices each and every day will create the safe workplace culture you need, and your customers require.
In these challenging times leaders have to ensure their corporate culture is ready for re-opening. Now is the time to talk closely with your team members, all your intermediate leaders, and even their family members who may be worried about a loved one working at this time. Even if you cannot be close physically, you need to be close emotionally to the needs of your team and your workplace. Once you have a solid, human relationship with your team, and a robust, current and highly focused health and safety management system available to your staff, you can be confident you will have done everything needed to establish a new, safe workplace culture for your team and your customers.
But leaders also need operational management plans, and systems, to implement their cultural direction and enable their staff to be safe and successful when re-opening. Leaders must systematically prepare their teams and their workplace to embrace a safety-first culture. Team members need clear processes they can follow, based on guidelines from all levels of government. Organizations need to be able to track who has been trained, what incidents have arisen and what preventative measures can be implemented to avoid safety incidents in the future. An effective operational management plan requires systems to be robust, easily accessed remotely and while mobile, maintained with the most current information and procedures, and aligned to the needs of all stakeholders. Every organization should be leveraging the power to technology to help train and prepare their teams for re-opening.
Once your organization has adopted and implemented an operational management plan specific to the COVID-19 requirements of your workplace and industry, you can leverage this investment for more than maintaining a safe and health workforce and customer based. Your adoption and implementation of safe work processes is a competitive advantage in that it reduces the costs you may incur in the event of safety incidents, protects your staff so they are healthy and available to be productive, and helps insure your organization from the risks of COVID-19 related infections or transmissions.