By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
The post-coronavirus workplace is a whole new ballgame. What was once familiar and second-nature to employees is now completely different. There are extra safety steps and new work processes—many of which might seem cumbersome. The workplace can seem foreign, even to long-tenured employees. COVID-19 employee training is essential to help them get comfortable with the changes and embrace the workplace as a familiar place where they can be productive.
What employees need to know spans all facets of change in the workplace—from a new floorplan, to expectations for interaction, to safety and health protocols. Whether they’re coming back after a COVID-19 halitus or adapting to changes on the fly, set aside time for training. It’s a straightforward way to address the newness of the workplace and get everyone on the same page about the changes—many of which are likely here to stay.
Workplace layout considerations
Chances are, you’ve changed your workplace to accommodate social distancing guidelines and to decrease opportunities for congregation. Don’t expect employees to automatically adapt! Show them how to properly interact in their new workspaces. Without guidance on how to use a new floor plan, employees will either revert back to what they know or do what they think makes sense… which might clash with others or the intent of the new layout. Take the time to go over the modified layout, new ways to use the workplace, and expectations for workspace utilization.
Don’t congregate at the copy machine. No more than five people in the break room at a time. Stay six feet apart. Depending on your workplace, there may be a bevy of new processes that employees need to get up to speed on before they dive back into work. Take some time to go over these new processes and the expectations for them. It’s not enough to send a memo, either. Host a virtual all-hands meeting or go over these expectations one-on-one as part of a slow reintegration. Make them an everyday focus to engrain good habits—and to prevent old habits from creeping back into the picture.
PPE usage and hygiene expectations
Make sure your employees not only wear masks and other relevant PPE, but wear these items correctly. Employers have a duty to maintain a safe work environment, which extends to how individual employees protect themselves and others. Whether you supply masks or provide guidance on the types of face coverings allowed, make this information readily available and often-referenced. The same goes for hand-washing and sanitizing, and any other forms of personal hygiene. Provide clear expectations for employees to follow, so everyone meets the same high standards of personal safety and cleanliness.
If your workplace implements an employee self-screening process, take the time to build out an entire process. Then, make that process broadly known to employees. Every employee should know what symptoms to check for, how to check for them, when to stay home from work, and how to inform the company of their absence. Make these guidelines clear and the protocol simple to follow—whether that’s working from home for a couple days or reporting the results of a COVID-19 test to return to work. There shouldn’t be any room for uncertainty when it comes to how employees handle their personal wellness screenings
So much goes into training employees on remote work standards. If you haven’t already, compile a robust telecommuting guide for employees and standardize processes for granting access to remote employees. Then, take the time to train employees on how to do their job from home. It goes beyond communicating new methods and practices—training should also include cybersecurity best practices, acceptable working hours, communication expectations, and answers to questions about specific situations. If remote employees feel like working from home is a free-for-all, they’ll treat it like one. Training is the difference between a flexible telecommuting situation and a chaotic one.
Take the mystery out of the workplace
There may never be a return to pre-coronavirus operations, but that doesn’t mean the workplace can’t ever be as productive as it once was. Take the time to train employees and get them acclimated to their new surroundings and expectations. It won’t take long for them to adapt. When they feel comfortable and the workplace begins to feel like a familiar backdrop once again, productivity, culture, and morale will begin to pick up. It won’t be long until the new workplace feels like the old one.
Keep reading: Coronavirus Workplace Management Resources