There’s a national conversation happening among businesses on how to return to the office. For Michigan specifically, non-essential businesses may be able to return to their workplaces after May 15 if the stay-at-home order is lifted at that time. But what will that look like? What preparations should businesses be making now? How does a business prepare for returning to work after Coronavirus so that they are following state regulations and safety protocols for their employees while maintaining standard company functions?

I am part of a team at DISHER researching what this means for our company. We wanted to share the latest resources we have found most helpful and provide some of the most relevant highlights to help you and other organizations prepare for returning to the office.

Key Resources for Returning to Work After Coronavirus

In all the articles, guidelines, seminars, and information that DISHER has been evaluating, the OSHA guideline and CDC webpage resources continue to be referenced as informative, helpful, and applicable. If you need a STEP 1 or a checkpoint during this process, read these:

OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID19

CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers

Other companies and organizations have also presented helpful guidance for navigating through this process. Some of these companies are in the essential-business category and have already had to work through many of the transitions needed to have employees at a workplace.

Yanfeng shared in the Lakeshore Advantage Seminar: Returning to Work

Steelcase offered help in Navigating What’s Next: The Post-COVID Workplace

Lakeshore Advantage has collected announcements, tools, and best practices for businesses regarding COVID19

Assign a Team

Every company is in a unique position at this time. In addition to being essential or non-essential, we each have a specific industry type, company function, location, and employees. There is not a one-size-fits-all rule for how to return to the office. With that in mind, now is the time to start preparing. OSHA and the CDC recommend assigning a team of people in your business to champion this effort. And according to Spectrum Health, even the smallest offices will need a minimum of two weeks to plan for reentry.

Highlights in the Plan

While knowing each of our re-entry plans will be unique to our company and workplaces, here are some considerations and thought-starters that have consistently appeared in the resources currently available:

1. Conduct a walkthrough of your workplace and identify the risk factors from the physical space.

+ Do individuals have space enough to work at least six feet away from each other? Should desks and meeting rooms be rearranged to give more space and limit the total number of people in an area?

+ Do physical barriers need to be installed such as sneeze guards at places like the front desk?

2. Create a plan for how to respond to a potential or confirmed COVID-19 case within your company.

+ What actions does the employee need to take? How do they respond if at work, who do they contact, and how long should they stay away from the office?

+ What actions does the employer need to take? How do they communicate to the team, what are the cleaning procedures, and do current sick-leave policies need to be updated to accommodate for COVID-19?

+ Consider cross-training functions in advance so if there is an extended absence of an employee, company activities can continue.

+ Consider what to do if a family member or dependent becomes sick and an employee needs to stay home to care for an individual.

3. What are time-sensitive items that need to be done first?

+ Consider if your office/company will need items like masks, gloves, goggles, face shields, physical barriers, no-touch door openers, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, extra hand soap, etc. These may take time to order and ship.

+ Consider if desks need to be reconfigured, sneeze guards need to be installed, etc. This will take time to put in place.

4. Evaluate and understand your employee’s concerns

+ Consider sending out a survey, conducting a random case study, or starting conversations with your employees and coworkers. We all have varying degrees of concerns when it comes to COVID-19—some are mental and emotional, and others are physical due to pre-existing conditions and who we live with.

+ Consider offering special accommodations for specific scenarios or employees.

+ Consider continuing to offer telework options for employees.

Final Thoughts

We are all learning as we go. This pandemic is unprecedented and everchanging. It can prove to be frustrating as we all try to navigate our work and personal needs in the midst of it. DISHER doesn’t have all the right answers and we are certainly not the experts when it comes to COVID-19 in the workplace, but we hope you found this information useful as you plan and prepare at your place of business. We want to help our community and customer partners in any way we can. Together we are stronger as we establish safe work environments that meet federal guidelines with sustainable business practices. Let’s keep Making a Positive Difference.