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As offices resume work from the holiday break, many people are facing the question of how to return safely to the office. As useful as home office might be, it is no piece of cake, and it can only replace in-person work up to a certain point. Getting your team together might be useful for project coordination and keeping alive the personal bond between coworkers. But what can you do to make sure the risks of going back are not greater than the benefits? Here are some ideas.
In general terms, there are two big points to consider: how to decrease employees’ risk of getting infected with COVID–19 and how to make sure your team continues to be coordinated as some return to the office and others don’t.
Ideas for staying safe
According to the CDC advice, there are several actions you can take (as an employee or employer) to minimize the risk of contagion as much as possible.
- Monitor your health. Be alert for symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or loss of taste and smell. Having daily temperature controls may be useful: temperature is not a guarantee of not being infected, but if someone is feeling unwell, is less likely to go to work if he/she knows fever will be detected. This, in turn, will protect his/her coworkers.
- If you feel unwell or have been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, you should inform your employees (or supervisor) and self-isolate.
- Improve ventilation in the working place. If that is not an option, decrease occupation significantly.
- Make sure each desk is at least six feet apart, and all employees have access to soap and alcohol to disinfect their hands and work surface. Encourage them to use their own work implements exclusively.
- Encourage frequent hand washing and the use of masks.
- Scale the number of employees going to the office each day. Most likely, you don’t need everybody attending to the office simultaneously; if you can ensure only one team goes each day, you will reduce the contagion risk.
The CDC has prepared several useful resources you might want to check to find more ideas on returning to work, a resuming business toolkit, and general guidance for business and employers. Read them thoroughly as all details matter when it comes to keeping your team safe.
Ideas for a coordinated team
The best mechanism to coordinate your team will depend largely on the work dynamics you developed over the past few months and on the nature of your company’s projects. If your team needs to deliver daily (as in the case of a newspaper), your work pace will differ than if it can be monthly. However, these tips might be useful.
- Make sure, at the beginning of the week, that everybody has a clear idea of the tasks he/she needs to perform and avoid surprises as much as possible. Adding new assignments to your team members will delay the completion of the ones they already had.
- Have clear communication channels between the teams attending the office and those home working.
- Develop routines. If your team knows who is going to the office which day and that repeats over and over, they will know better how to solve daily difficulties.
- A short 15-20 minutes daily meeting can be useful, especially during the first couple of months. It is important to keep it short and ensure its sole purpose is establishing the tasks for the day. If the meeting becomes a moment to digress, it is going to be a loss of time. Having short daily meetings can be a great mechanism to coordinate the team in the office and those still doing home office.
As has been the case with everything since the pandemic began, it will be an adaptation process, so being patient and keeping good communication with your team will help you understand what needs to be improved and how to do it.
Business Trends – BACK TO THE OFFICE? THESE IDEAS CAN HELP YOUR TEAM TO CONTINUE WORKING TOGETHER WHILE PROTECTING THEMSELVES FROM COVID-19
By: Ana Maria Enciso, January 2021