Payroll Data Services Blog

Preparing for the Next Normal: Strategies for a Post-Lockdown Workplace

red open door smallerDealing with uncertainties and unknowns has become standard operating procedure for businesses during this new normal. 

But the changes will undoubtedly keep coming. What opportunities and challenges wait on the other side of the current situation? Will it be a whole new way of doing business? How will operating in the workplace and dealing with customers change? Let’s prepare together. 

All together in one (ready-for-what’s-next) place

Some companies, most notably Twitter and Square, have decided they will never return to a traditional office environment. This, of course, would bring many challenges, ranging from who’s responsible for purchasing home-office supplies to the deductibility of those or other expenses.

Assuming your organization isn’t taking this path by going entirely and permanently remote, it’s time to consider everything involved with gathering again in central office locations.

If you haven’t already, step one is staying updated on the latest guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) specifically related to the reopening of workplaces. The CDC has also issued useful tools to help guide reopenings. And remember to check with state and local health officials before taking that next, important step. 

Post-lockdown questions worth considering

While the list of possible questions to include is endless, here are several worth your thoughtful attention as you stage your return: 

  • Should you mandate capacity limits for meeting rooms?
  • How and where will customer interactions now occur?
  • Is the handshake a thing of the past?
  • How will those in higher-risk health categories be accommodated? 
  • Will you discourage hallway loitering, even for work-related conversations? 
  • Have you cross-trained staff on different roles to prevent any disruption in productivity or service to customers? 
  • Have you updated and distributed any lasting changes to flexible workplace policies?
  • Are new social distancing guidelines clearly posted and understood (including the consequences for violating them)? 
  • If masks will be part of your new normal, what can you do to destigmatize wearing them?
  • Do workers understand that powering through illness with a hero mentality is no longer acceptable behavior? 

Some stickier subjects

Returning to work after a pandemic has an endless list of issues for the simple reason that it has never happened before. And part of that complexity includes several stickier subjects that might need to be addressed. 

  • Will you be conducting regular health or temperature checks? If so, will it be handled by a third-party or by internal staff? 
  • Are you prepared for employees to immediately use any FMLA and PTO time they’ve accumulated during the lockdown? 
  • Will furloughed or other returning workers have the same position or be asked to take on a new role? 
  • What’s your protocol for terminating employment for reasons unrelated to the pandemic?

Since the list of sticky subjects like these could grow even longer, you might want to consider attending this workshop or others like it dedicated to the subject. You’ll also want to visit and revisit our COVID-19 resources page regularly for additional insights.

When business comes roaring back 

With the extent of disruption to standard operating procedures, your organization may find itself facing a sudden surge in business once things return to some sense of normal. And that means you might also need to hire additional help quickly. 

Now’s the time to prepare for the new world of recruiting and hiring. For example, you’ll want to make sure your entire team is ready for an increase in online interviews. Is the technology in place? Do they know how to use it? Have they been instructed on best practices for the online interview? It can make all the difference when it comes to acquiring top talent. 

Return-to-remote strategies

Nobody wants to think this could happen again, but it’s clearly a real possibility. And it’s important to prepare by taking whatever steps are necessary now to prepare for another round of 24/7 telework. What worked before? What could work better should we have another crisis on our hands? Make sure you’re constantly asking yourself all the tough questions.

Of course, one way to prepare for a return-to-remote is by having trustworthy systems in place to keep essential business and employee records accessible and safe in any circumstances. Orbit Solutions does just that, providing anytime access to everything from payroll history to benefits administration, time tracking, employee records, and more. 

The lockdown and its aftermath present new challenges every day. For help staying on top of them, be sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn — and visit our regularly updated COVID-19 resources page often.


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