Opening the Office vs Working Remotely: Finding a Compromise

There are no two ways about it: the COVID-19 pandemic has brought havoc to hundreds of workplaces around the globe. Many have been forced to send employees home out of health concerns and those that have stayed open have put themselves and their employees at risk. Beyond that, most are dealing with boom-and-bust style business as customers either avoid their stores or buy in bulk to limit their exposure. 

 

To say a company hasn’t been impacted in some way would be naive.

 

Now businesses are under more pressure than ever to reopen. As already limited and confusing federal and state aid expires, most companies are finding themselves forced to decide between paying the bills and putting employees and customers at risk. Finding creative ways to strike a balance between staying remote and opening the doors has become a goal of most successful businesses.   

Staying Remote

Pros

There are certainly pros to staying as remote as possible. The primary one being that you are prioritizing employee safety and encouraging them to look after their and their family’s health. Focusing on taking care of employees and promoting a safe workplace for everyone is a valuable bonus both for employees and customers — some employees even love working from home so much they are hoping to do so permanently

 

Additionally, modern technology allows for employees in many sectors to do their jobs completely online. Likewise, employers can encourage their employees to capitalize on technology to keep track of their mental and physical health. The mental health aspect can be especially valuable when they are stuck working from home.  

Cons

Of course, there are some cons to stay remote as well. The biggest most employers are worried about is a decrease in overall productivity. This can come from several things such as an employee’s inability to easily communicate and collaborate with co-workers and partners. It could also be a problem associated with the many distractions that come from working from home. 

 

Many employers also feel as though their company culture is suffering while employees are working remotely. It can be challenging for employees to feel connected and part of a supportive workplace community. Fortunately, there are some ways to help maintain company culture while working remotely

Opening Offices

Pros

However, for some employees, the ability to get everything done while having employees work remotely is elusive at best. Some jobs simply require in-person service. For businesses that require some level of human interaction, opening up can be the only thing that will keep you afloat. And it might not be a bad thing — many people are eager to interact with their favorite stores in some way, even if it isn’t traditional.  

 

Many of the reasons that business owners are hesitant with continuing to work remotely are also major pros to reopening. You can more easily monitor the productivity of employees and work towards rebuilding company culture. The idea of moving back towards normal is also tantalizing and there are plenty of ways to be successful in reopening

Cons

The big elephant in the room for reopening is the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak in the office space. Forcing employees to come back and having an outbreak could bring all sorts of legal challenges to your business. This is especially true if your employees are completing high-risk jobs without proper protections.

 

Additionally, it can be a real issue for your company’s image down the road. Customers are not itching to go back to businesses that have experienced a COVID outbreak even after the risk has been mitigated. Choosing to open the doors too soon — especially with the massive rise in cases across the U.S. — could spell disaster for the company.  

Making a Decision

Deciding to keep employees working remotely or sending them back to work and reopening your public-facing business is really difficult. There are plenty of pros and cons to each choice, many of which could make or break your company. As you weigh your options, think about the risks, benefits, and needs of your company.

 

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your options either. To keep their businesses running, some companies have altered their products and services to make things that are in demand like hand sanitizer while others have greatly boosted their online services. Striking the right compromise may also involve switching things up for employees such as half coming into the office while half remain working from home. 

 

Weigh the pros and cons, choose what is right for your business and your employees. Sooner or later we will adapt and get through this difficult time and many companies will be better off for it. What have you been considering as a business leader and what has led you to make the decisions you are making?

The Importance of Prioritizing Employee Health

For a company to thrive, it must have a healthy workforce. When employees know that their employer has their best interests at heart, they will feel more motivated to do their part and help their company succeed. With the arrival of COVID-19, the health of your employees is even more imperative today than ever before.

 

Employee health is more than avoiding slips and falls. It means having policies in place that encourage a healthy body and mind, and your human resources team can provide that support. Let’s look at the benefits of employee health and how to get the desired results.

Healthy Employees are Productive Employees

Prioritizing employee health is important not only because folks should feel secure coming to work each day, but also because healthy employees are also productive employees. In general, the happier the employee, the more motivated they will be, and that goes for companies of all types. Even industries as diverse as shipping and trucking are utilizing driver scorecards to view attributes like excessive braking and speeding, and the drivers use this information to try to improve their performance so they drive more efficiently. This change also saves the company money on fuel costs and reduces employee stress.   

 

There are many initiatives that you can make around the office to promote health and productivity. One of them is offering healthy food choices in the break and lunchrooms. In general, employees who eat better often have more energy and improved concentration throughout the day. Not to mention that healthy employees will also call out sick less often.

 

Then there are the positive results associated with exercising in the morning or during lunch. According to studies, those who exercise at least three days per week are 15% more likely to have increased job performance. Consider implementing a wellness program that includes nutrition education, exercise programs, and information for weight loss systems that the employees can access freely.

Don’t Forget Mental Health

While physical dangers are always lurking, it is essential to not forget the mental health of your employees. You want your workers to enjoy coming to work, so they don’t look for a job elsewhere. More importantly, employees who feel that they are treated unfairly, even to the point of discrimination, can sue your workplace and tarnish your public image.

 

Poor mental health can manifest itself in many ways. Some employees may feel sad or lonely while they are at work, which can happen if they feel that they are just cogs in the machine without that human interaction that we all require to thrive. Lonely employees also impact your business as those who are truly unhappy generally call out sick twice as often as happier employees. To encourage a sense of community, consider hosting team-building exercises in the office, or even engage in a larger project like volunteering at a soup kitchen to really enforce that this office is also a family.

 

Human Resources should have an open-door policy and encourage employees to come to them when they are feeling mentally drained. When they do, offer information based on their needs, especially if your company does not offer a health insurance program, or your employees don’t qualify for one. For instance, employees with Medicare may have access to medication or psychiatry appointments that can help them get back on the right track. To all employees, you can also recommend tech solutions like smartphone apps that can help mitigate stress and provide breathing exercises when things are getting a little hard to handle.

Safety During COVID-19

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, which is the novel coronavirus, and how businesses must adapt to keep their employees from getting infected. First, be open with your employees and tell them to go to HR if they feel that they are getting sick so they can be sent home until they get better. Temperature screenings at all entrances will not only give you an indicator that someone is ill but will also give other employees the sense that their employer cares about their health.

 

On top of that, companies should follow CDC guidelines as they apply to limiting exposure to COVID-19. Social distancing protocols are heavily favored by the CDC with the recommendation to keep people six feet apart. If you have an office with a cubicle layout, your employees may already be separated. However, if you work in a warehouse or overcrowded office where people are generally on top of each other, then you may have to consider making new work shifts where employees come at different times to avoid overcrowding.

 

Also, make an effort to provide the clean and sanitized atmosphere that you and your employers deserve. This may involve hiring a larger cleaning crew that can come in each night and sanitize all desks and refill all soap and hand sanitizer stations, so employees are always able to stay as germ-free as possible. If you have a good employee that just doesn’t feel safe coming to the office, consider the possibility of remote work as a potential solution. 

 

Since our employees are what keeps our businesses going strong, we must keep them as the top priority. Implement some easy safety strategies today, and you could have happier employees tomorrow. 

Tips for Reopening Your Business in the Wake of COVID-19

Employee safety in the wake of COVID-19 is more of an issue than ever before. With the concerns of the pandemic atop the economic difficulties of reopening a business or starting a new one, human resources now means giving employees and coworkers the tools to stay safe and maintain social distancing.

 

No matter the challenges, you can create an office space that is safe, sustainable, and functional. All it takes are the right steps and tools to help you open or reopen your workplace post-coronavirus. 

 

Here are five tips for reopening your business safely and successfully:

#1: Write or Rewrite Your Business Plan

Whether you are planning to start a business fresh or are restarting after COVID-19 shutdowns, the pandemic has changed many factors. Reconsider how you’ll conduct business and employee procedures from the ground up. This means reworking your business plan. 

 

A business plan can include everything from long-term goals to the structure of day-to-day procedures. The most important factor involved in the business plan are the financials. From a value proposition to financial projections, the state of the pandemic economy has likely affected your plans. Rework your business plan when starting or restarting a business to set clear and updated expectations for yourself, your employees, or your investors. 

 

#2: Calculate the Costs

 

Successfully restarting a business after the pandemic comes down to a realistic calculation of the costs involved. Take inventory of all expected expenses that come with returning to an office space, potentially onboarding new employees, and restructuring for social distancing.

 

Use a helpful budgeting tool to take inventory and calculate these costs. Mobile apps and digital tools help you keep track of all expenses on the go as you work out a realistic cost analysis.

 

Take advantage of the mobility and flexibility offered by budgeting apps as you consider the costs surrounding reopening maintenance, furnishings, equipment, personnel, and so much more. 

 

#3: Factor in Reopening Procedures

 

With a physical office location, you need to take into account the maintenance procedures that will be required before moving employees back to the office. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list the dangers of a dormant building, citing the risk of mold and Legionella. Prevent problems by taking the proper steps when returning to the office. 

 

Start by developing a plan for water management and ensure that the water heater in your building is functioning properly. Then, flush your water lines with hot and cold water. This is vital in killing Legionella growth and replacing all water in the building’s piping with fresh, clean water. 

 

Follow up with ensuring that all water storage and maintenance systems like cooling towers, sprinkler systems, and eye wash stations are clean and functional. Finally, disinfect all water fountains and features.

 

There are costs associated with these necessary procedures that you’ll need to prepare for and document, but completing them helps guarantee employee safety. 

#4: Redesign Your Space

Your original office layout likely isn’t up to the standards of a post-COVID social distancing world. This means a redesign of your workspace, including areas you might not have considered. Not only should the office layout be managed to maintain a distance of six feet between employees, rooms, and walkways that typically saw more traffic should be adjusted for the new normal.

 

Create indicators in hallways and bathrooms to maintain one-way traffic or individual use so that your coworkers aren’t in close quarters when they don’t have to be. Breakroom furniture and layouts should be adjusted to accommodate fewer individuals at a time. Sanitization stations and equipment should be accessible and neatly organized.

 

A comprehensive redesign will allow the members of your team to keep a safe distance while maintaining functionality but take the opportunity to have fun with your work environment. Consider redecorating with sustainable decor. Add some plants. Integrate color. Create a fun, thriving workplace despite the added anxiety of social distancing rules that will help your employees and coworkers adjust to the new normal. 

#5: Focus on Employee Safety

First and foremost should always be the safety of those working in an office. Consider measures you can implement to enhance employee safety and combat the pandemic. 

 

There are many different strategies you can integrate into your redesigned business plan; here are just a few ideas:

 

  • Contract healthcare professionals to monitor temperatures of those entering the building
  • Educate and be consistent on proper facemask procedures
  • Provide sanitizing equipment and individual office supplies to reduce sharing
  • Limit the number of employees on break and in shared spaces at any given time
  • Allow able employees to work from home
  • Integrate smart solutions for visitor monitoring and employee security

 

Start with your broad business plan and narrow it to specific ways you can maintain employee safety. In the wake of COVID-19, businesses need to implement every policy they can for team member comfort and morale. These are but a few suggestions for a safer future. 

 

By following these strategies to redesign your business before opening or reopening, you will provide your team with a safe office environment with the resources they need to be successful. 

 

How To Ensure You’re Providing Employees With a Healthy and Safe Workspace

It may come as somewhat of a shock to most of us, but workplace safety is actually a pretty substantial issue in the United States. For a developed country, we have a lot of preventable accidents happen — nearly 7 million workplace injuries per year! This number certainly doesn’t include all of the times employees feel like they have to take unnecessary risks to get a job done or fail to report relatively minor injuries and close calls. 

Obviously, as a manager, one of the most important things you can do is take steps to ensure your employees are working in a safe and healthy work environment. Where there are inherent risks, it is your duty to educate employees and put forth an effort to mitigate them as much as possible. Beyond just physical health, this also means providing a safe place mentally and socially as well. 

 

Especially in the era of COVID-19, taking the time to assess risks and make calculated efforts to limit health disasters is of the utmost importance. The challenges may be different, but ultimately the responsibility is the same. 

 

Here are some things you can do as a manager to help ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all of your employees. 

Encourage a Culture of Safety

It isn’t always easy to encourage employees to take workplace safety seriously, If your company has been fortunate enough to have avoided injuries for quite some time, it can be easy to become complacent. In these situations, one of the best things you as a manager can do is lead by example. Take safety seriously and do your best to encourage others to do so as well. 

 

Education and constant reminders are some of the best tools for building an atmosphere of safety. Take steps to ensure that all employees are properly trained and have received the appropriate equipment to complete their jobs prior to them starting work. In addition, put signage and other forms of visual reminders where people will see them regularly. 

 

Some of the most common workplace injuries come from tasks that employees do nearly every day without an issue. It can be in the form of an object falling on them, repetitive motion injuries, strains, overexertion, or overexposure to loud noises. As a manager, encourage employees to take the time they need to do the job effectively and safely without rushing. Frequent breaks to rest and stretch can also help. 

Promote Personal Health

No matter what you think is going on in one of your employee’s lives, chances are you don’t really know or understand the whole story. Employees could be dealing with all sorts of hidden issues or unseen disabilities that make work more challenging than it should be. Although personal issues really shouldn’t be allowed to impact work performance, we’re all human and occasionally things leak over on accident. 

 

As a manager, strive to help employees promote their own personal health in any way that you can. For instance, make sure you are ADA compliant and capable of supporting all employees no matter the situation. 

 

Likewise, encourage employees to do small things that will benefit their health in the long-term. For instance, taking regular work breaks and going on walks can relieve stress and help tense muscles relax. If possible, work towards offering wellness programs and health-related perks to employees such as gym membership discounts or free yoga classes once or twice a week during lunch. 

Create a Friendly Atmosphere

The atmosphere of your workplace is a commonly undervalued factor when assessing the health and safety of a workplace. It may not seem obvious, but a negative company culture or a few tasteless or rude employees can completely change the tone of an office space. This can lead to decreases in employee satisfaction and productivity as well as increase feelings of stress and anxiety in the workplace — neither of which should be present in an employee truly feels safe. 

 

One of the big things you can do as a manager is spot problems early and work towards addressing them before they blow up. Encourage the use of inclusive language in the workplace — this can help employees feel less alienated by coworkers with different values and more part of a larger team. If disagreements do arise, work through them as a neutral character and try to address them with empathy and compassion. 

 

The role of employers is changing when it comes to workplace safety. Twenty or thirty years ago safety may have only included physical health; now it includes not only physical health, but mental health, inclusion, protection from harassment, and cybersecurity. As a manager, this means there is a lot on your plate when it comes to the health and welfare of your employees. 

 

***

 

Workplace safety is a serious issue in many workplaces. Managers must work to encourage an atmosphere of both physical safety, equality, and inclusiveness in the workplace. It isn’t always an easy task, but it can be a rewarding one at the end of the day. 

 

How Did COVID 19 Affect People with Disabilities

COVID 19 presents a global threat, and the pandemic is particularly dangerous for many groups, including the elderly, people who already have a health condition, and people with disabilities. Everyone in the world is affected by this crisis in some way or another.

The risks are not just health-related. The global economy has suffered a lot thanks to the virus, and many people are endangered, as they can’t provide for themselves and their families. Some people are given opportunities to work from home and keep their income steady, while others don’t have the same luxury. Read on for a thorough breakdown of how COVID 19 affects people with disabilities.

1. Not All Disabled People Are Affected the Same Way

We shouldn’t bundle all people within a group together, because being disabled can be a lot of different things. What we’re getting at, is that some disabled persons live alone, and cope with it just fine, while others depend on help from others.

A lot of disabled people live in groups, such as nursing homes. People who live in such facilities are impossible to isolate. As everyone already knows, isolation is the best prevention against COVID 19. The people who can’t isolate themselves are at the highest risk of exposure to the virus.

Imagine living in close quarters with many other disabled people, with no chance of isolation. In those conditions, people with disabilities are at high risk of contracting COVID 19, because they aren’t just in contact with other invalids, they are also in contact with the helping staff. It’s not a single doctor or nurse who takes care of them, they’re a dozen.

The medical staff is very exposed to COVID 19, and they take the biggest risks. Furthermore, their patients are at risk too, meaning that medical facilities aren’t exactly the safest right now. Finally, we can conclude that people with disabilities aren’t affected equally, and their disability isn’t the biggest risk. On the contrary, the risk lies in their living arrangements and their possible exposure to COVID 19.

2. Economic Stability Is a Huge Factor Too

The harsh reality in any crisis is that well-situated people are generally safer than those with low or no income at all. The same goes for the disabled. Being rich or having some financial backing goes a long way for treating any medical condition, and preventing exposure to a virus as widespread as COVID 19.

Money is not a bulletproof shield, but it is a shield of sorts. In a state of emergency, it can help immensely because it can provide the necessary protection and coping mechanisms. Generally speaking, people with disabilities usually aren’t as financially stable as those with no medical conditions. People who live in countries with proper social care systems don’t have to worry as much as those in low-income countries.

Money can get you medical, hygiene, and food supplies to last in this difficult situation. If you have money to spare, you can pay for various delivery services, which are extremely popular these days. Most people, not just those with disabilities, don’t have big savings for dark days.

You can say we’re all experiencing those dark times right now. Social service programs that help the disabled financially aren’t exactly giving out enough money to provide savings. Those cheques are usually instantly spent on basic needs. If you’re disabled and manage to get a job, which is incredibly difficult right now, you can say goodbye to the social support cheques.

3. Is Working an Option?

People with disabilities have a much harder time finding a job at any time, let alone during a crisis. Some disabled people are lucky enough to have jobs that can be done from home. They are in the best position right now because they have a steady income and they can self-isolate.

On the other side are people with disabilities whose work involves human contact. They’re at risk, and there’s nothing to be done because they can’t just go and work from home. If they leave their job, they won’t have any income unless they manage to get some social security fast. What’s better, to be poor and “safe”, or to keep your job and stay exposed to COVID 19? There’s no right answer to that question since both options are far from perfect.

If you’d like to help people with disabilities in this time of crisis, it’s best to apply for the NDIS registration process at Provider Plus. It’s a very difficult process, so you shouldn’t do it without professional help. Provider Plus is an all-in-one service, which can help your business become an NDIS registered provider in no time. They have a 100% approval rate for all their clients, which speaks volumes about their success.

Conclusion

Even though maintaining physical health is important, we shouldn’t disregard mental health either. This global state of alert is not beneficial to the mental state of anyone. Isolation is more difficult for those with mental issues. They must be given some leeway, and the right to occasionally go outside and take a breather.

People with disabilities are usually bundled together, under the same banner, but they are not the same. Their disabilities differ, some have physical disabilities, while others have mental health conditions. Each of these conditions should be addressed specifically, and these people should be given appropriate help, especially in these dire circumstances.