Planning for Reopening the Workplace - Things to consider to keep employees safe, now and in the future.
The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to change the workplace as we know them. The rules and operating procedures that businesses need to follow are disruptively different than those during pre-pandemic times and they are complex. These new rules and procedures are very different for different businesses and for similar businesses in different locations. In every phase of this pandemic, a prudent set of rules and procedures are set in place, which are updated based on new information on the ground, new guidance from government authorities or new outbreaks in an employer’s area. We have recently observed workplaces going back and forth into lockdown depending on the rise or fall in the number of cases in their place of business.
Business risk assessment
As workplaces plan to bring back employees in a constantly evolving pandemic situation, it is very important to assess the current state of play before preparing for a phased opening. It's critical to understand whether the specific conditions at a particular workplace is conducive enough to accommodate social distancing and other guidelines recommended by state and federal authorities. What are the steps needed to begin this process and are all the necessary checks and balances in place to handle an outbreak.
How to get started?
The first step in preparation for the reopening is Creating a Task Force with cross functional team members. It will be the responsibility of this task force to guide the entire organization as they evolve through the pandemic response situation. Another important aspect is to identify reliable data sources. In such a pandemic situation there will be massive amounts of unreliable data all around, it is extremely critical to skim through and use the most authentic and scientifically backed data source in making decisions for the workplace procedures.
Source: Madrona Venture Group Webinar
The next critical question companies have to answer is ‘Who should come back and When?’. This is an extremely delicate step in risk assessment as companies try to balance employee health and survival of the business. This will force companies to relook and understand the individual situations of their workforce, which probably they have never done before. This would also mean repeating the same question for every employee - ‘whether he falls in the essential to return bucket at this time for the business to survive’.
Source: Madrona Venture Group Webinar
Phased Reopening Plan
The first step is to analyze the current state of play, which would mean carefully considering some of the following questions:
Can the workplace support physical distancing and cleaning?
Is there a reliable or sustainable supply of PPE and cleaning supplies?
Are the regulatory requirements and implementation of compliant practices in place?
What are the immediate systems needed in place to begin the process?
Are the processes flexible enough to adapt to new scenarios and update?
Only when the above questions are satisfactorily answered, and adequate arrangements are made, you should consider the phased reopening plan.
In this phase utmost importance should be given to understanding the individual employee situation irrespective of their role in the company. As the schools are closed and many states have strict guidelines in place for day cares and other facilities, it might be difficult for employees to return. Only willing and eligible employees should be allowed to return.
Preparation must include establishing a physical evidence for the employees to understand the precautions which the workplace is taking to keep them safe. This includes visible evidence with clear displays, markings and readily available resources and documentation. Employees and visitor health check procedures like temperature monitoring, self attestation with a screening questionnaire and contact tracing.
Minimal Solutions for Phase 1 - Manual temperature check for the small number of employees coming in to work. Oloid Certify is a FREE app which allows workplaces to pre-screen employees and visitors using a web-based Q&A form, which generates a QR code. Oloid certify scanner app then sends this information to registered administrators notifying and alerting them of potential risk. Administrators can quickly act if there is a Red QR code from one of the persons trying to enter the workplace.
As more employees begin to return to work over a period of time, it is extremely important to remain flexible and learn from the experience. Implemented policies have to constantly evolve as more information is available on the Covid-19 situation overall and guidelines are updated. It is important to have a team constantly monitor all systems on the ground and send feedback to the management.
Companies like Oloid and others have been working on automated solutions to support workplaces managing more workers on premise as they move through the phased opening process. It is in the best interest of the companies to implement some of these automated solutions to help the team monitor and manage the increased occupancy.
Solutions for Phase 2 - As more number of employees start to come in, manual temperature checks might result in longer lines, which in turn increases the risk of contamination. Oloid Thermal is a fully automated temperature screening solution. It is available as an app download on CAT61, an android phone with thermal camera. Oloid thermal integrated with Certify is a complete automated pre-screening system for reopening with a moderate workforce.
Phase 3 and beyond
Most experts seem to have a consensus that workplaces should not have 100% of their staff return to work unless there is a vaccine available. A roll back of some of the stricter guidelines in place is possible as the contagion numbers go down in the city and state where the workplace is located. In no circumstance workplaces can return to a pre-pandemic time.
Planning for the future would also mean relooking at some of the existing systems in place and reevaluating their relevance in the post pandemic situation such as contactless clocking, touchless access and other workforce management solutions.
Phase 3 and Beyond - Oloid’s identity management platform with a privacy forward design offers a comprehensive and integrated workplace solution. With Oloid Certify, Oloid Thermal and Oloid Verify using Oloid’s FaceVaultTM technology, businesses can confidently resume operations to a pre-pandemic level, while ensuring the health and safety of their workers and compliance. As all Oloid technologies are hardware agnostic, they scale easily according to the need from companies.