Returning to the Office: Mission One is Keeping People Safe

June 23, 2020 LRN Corporation

It's important companies take steps to prepare their workplace and employees for what’s coming, as the U.S. reopens and people start heading back to work. 


A majority of chief financial officers to a PwC survey said they are confident their organization will have a safe working environment waiting for them when their offices reopen. Seventy-one percent expressed confidence, and 73% said their company will provide a clear response and protocols if the number of COVID-19 cases increases, or if there is a second wave.


What can companies do to make their work spaces as safe as can be? PwC offered some suggestions. Among them:


  • Focus on people and productivity to develop a strategy for getting your employees safely back to the workplace. Create a transition office and develop an overall workforce action plan. Decide which workers need to return, and who can work from home. Almost half (49%) of companies plan to make remote work a permanent option for various roles; 40% said they will accelerate new ways of working, and automation. 
  • Use data to manage health and safety. One way is to develop a return-to-workplace model based on zip code-specific health information and state-specific guidelines. It’s a good idea to monitor legal and operational risks, including setting health and safety standards for suppliers, vendors, and others who come in contact with workers or facilities.
  • Lead and communicate changes with purpose, optimism, clarity. Make decisions to prioritize the safety of employees and the communities in which the company operates. Engage and inspire employees by elevating success stories and providing clear guidance on new health and safety measures and protocols.
  • Adapt to and operate for what comes next. One way to start is to build scenarios for the company’s workforce needs, so as to reduce costs and preserve jobs. Look for digital and remote ways of working, and enhance processes that have benefitted from the use of new technologies. 
  • Take another look at how and where people work. It may be time to accelerate digital adoption within the company, starting with technologies to help increase employee productivity. It’s a good idea to evaluate the company’s real estate footprint based on the number of permanently remote jobs. Training is essential to get buy-in for new policies and guidelines; plan accordingly.
  • Emphasize an empathic culture with policies sensitive to employees. Understanding employee needs by listening is crucial. Work schedules and new policies can be planned with special consideration of employee concerns, health issues, and new pandemic-related responsibilities at home. Focus on the well-being of employees to create a supportive workplace that reduces physical and mental stress. 


​To help with steps such as those above, LRN has created highly customizable kits to educate and train employees on the “new normal” at work and provide them with guidance e for adapting to the changes. Each kit includes media videos, a customizable eLearning module and infographics. The kits are free to LRN partners and are available in the following topic areas: “Returning to the Workplace,” “Working from Home,” and “Leading Through COVID-19.”

About the Author

By combining values-based education, rich insights, and expert advisory services into innovative, comprehensive solutions, LRN can help elevate behavior and the bottom line for your company.

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