While Critical Infrastructure Operators have been pressing on, many companies and employees are preparing to return to work or return to more “normal” operations and practices.
How you conduct this return is critical to your organization’s ability to resume its mission. Below are some key issues to keep in mind during this return process:
- Plan and remain flexible – In speaking with our clients, we know most employers have been actively planning for the return of their workforce. A proven maxim from military strategy is a good reminder, “even the best plan rarely survives first contact with the enemy.” During your planning, leaders should take time to “what if” the plan and test the assumptions. Develop contingency options and responses for various scenarios such as a spike in infections, employees’ reluctance, or inability to return physically, or accommodations for “at risk” employees.
- Educate your team, especially front-line leaders – Spend time ensuring your employees understand new procedures, especially those related to cleanliness and hygiene, PPE, social distancing, contact tracing, and health monitoring. Provide front-line leaders with additional guidance and training to allow them to execute their duties under these new conditions. It is going to be imperative that everyone understands and adheres to the measures your organization is taking to protect its workers and clients.
- Communicate – Communications can be challenging in the best of times, COVID-19 has made communicating harder. Facial masks and social distancing inhibit both verbal and non-verbal communications in the workplace. Leaders will need to ensure effective internal and external communications pathways exist. They should also ensure robust feedback mechanisms are in place to enable the “voice of the workforce” to be heard. We suggest you display proper signage throughout your facilities to emphasize new PPE, distancing, and other precautions.
- One size does not fit all – How we work together has changed. To limit exposure, leaders should consider keeping liberal work-from-home policies in place where possible, especially for workers with pre-existing conditions or those with childcare issues due to schools and summer programs being cancelled. Consider the use of flex hours in order reduce congestion at plant entrances or pre-shift medical screenings. Solicit feedback and ideas from those closest to the scene of action, the front-line leaders, on methods to improve employee safety and operating efficiency.
This list is a starting point. Leaders need to continue to learn, adapt, and adjust through this time of a new normal. It is important for our nation, our economy, and our personal well-being to return to work. With proper planning and a flexible mindset, leaders can move forward and succeed in this new operational paradigm.To learn more about Vetergy Group's response to COVID-19, click here.