Workplace Re-Entry Checklist – 10 Areas to Consider
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are eager to have their employees return to the workplace. Understanding and determining who will return and when will be a complex process. These are some areas to consider.
We encourage you to take what is applicable to your company and to reach out to our team at The Boulos Company if you have any questions as you review the information.
Local government regulations
- Make sure you confirm regulations from your local government in regards to the reopening of your office building. You may also need to figure out if a new certificate of occupancy is required from regulatory authorities. As of January 1, 2021, this is not an issue in the State of Maine.
Human resources (HR)/legal considerations
- Define a strategy for ensuring that employees with high-risk conditions (e.g. lung disease, asthma, heart conditions) do not come back to the office. Establish a process for reporting and tracking infections to comply with HIPAA regulations, as well as a system to report complaints/grievances. If you would like to receive updates from the CDC using the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/other/emailupdates/index.html
- In Portland, Maine, specifically, a referendum recently passed regarding emergency wages. You may consider talking to your legal representation to learn more.
- Consider a new seating arrangement that makes your staff feel comfortable and meets social distancing guidelines per your local jurisdiction. Depending on your work environment, establish new workplace etiquette and limit the usage of communal areas. Also, we suggest placing signage throughout the workplace in order to institute traffic flow and sanitation stations (marking up a floorplan is a great place to start).
- Make sure a member of your team is passing along any updates from the building (elevator occupancy, common area sanitation stations, bathroom capacity limits). Try to keep the staff informed at all times regarding rule/policy changes within your space and throughout the building. Have an office policy that is accessible and circulated to everybody. If you are phasing in staff and someone needs to come to the office, make sure that they communicate when and for how long they will be at the office.
Rule-based decision making
- Create a plan in the event that someone in the office tests positive. Will the whole office need to be tested? Will you shut down in the meantime? Who will coordinate the office closing and for how long will the office remain shut down?
- Consider assigning a member of your team to be responsible for announcing temporary closures and office re-openings. If it makes sense, create a small team for approval of a reopening plan. This would most likely consist of leadership and an HR/Administration employee. Consider everyone throughout all levels of the company and what is best for their safety before addressing business needs.
- Try to keep an open line of communication with the landlord regarding rules for building re-entry and occupancy limits. Ask the landlord about their protocols for cleaning and safety. Are they wiping down surfaces? Are they enforcing mask-wearing in the common areas? If you normally have clients or visitors into your space, inquire as to whether they are allowed to enter the building.
Business continuity plan
- Have a plan in place in the event that there is another mandatory shutdown. Be ready to adapt. Contemplate how you can improve your work-from-home plan. Consider developing pivot points and possible modifications to the existing plan. What issues arose the first time? Make sure your staff is aware of all conceivable situations, as well as any external issues beyond your control.
- Be mindful when ordering personal protection equipment, sanitation materials, and/or any advanced cleaning supplies that have long lead-time requirements. Make sure to diligently check your supply of these items and be proactive in restocking.
- If you have conference/huddle rooms, make sure that your room reservation technology is running smoothly and protocols for reserving these areas of the office are communicated clearly to all staff. If you have a large number of staff, perhaps setting up employee and occupancy-tracking technology is necessary. Teleconferencing will also be very common moving forward. Whether through an IT member of your staff or an outside vendor, consider making IT upgrades. This also requires you to consider your present and future bandwidth requirements.
Download the Maine COVID Office Impact Survey
Insight provided by:
Cameron Foster – Associate Broker
One Canal Plaza, Suite 500, Portland, ME 04101
T: 207.553.1722 C: 703.717.1660 207.871.1288