Re-opening offices and having employees return to work after COVID-19 requires planning, preparation, and flexibility. Ross Goolsby, Director of Financial Consulting at Bridgepoint Consulting, recently joined other Houston, Texas leaders for a webcast, [Houston Business Leader Forum] Navigating Uncertainty: Liabilities, Opportunities, and Lessons Learned.” During the webcast, the Houston leaders highlighted specific steps and issues that should be addressed when considering re-opening offices in a post-COVID-19 work environment.
Here are a few key takeaways:
Adequately prepare facilities for employees to return to work by ensuring cleaning and sanitizing supplies are stocked and readily available for use. Sufficient training for staff on how to return to the office and safely perform their work will be critical steps for protecting against COVID in the office. Additionally, it will be essential to communicate what plans will be deployed if another outbreak occurs or some in the office becomes sick with COVID-19. The most helpful resource Elaine Howard has found in the greater Houston partnership “Managing COVID–19 cases in the Workplace.”
Digital Environment for Remote Collaboration
As is already commonplace in many workplaces around the world, working from home or providing flexible hours will help limit contact in the office and help employees practice social distancing. Companies are encouraged to use digital conference platforms for remote meetings and update office policies to help employees feel secure and safe if they do need to come into the office.
Re-evaluate Employee Operations
COVID-19 not only creates the need for companies to re-strategize office safety, but it also creates the need for leadership to reconsider the company’s approach to legal, financial, security, and employee operations. The ability to be agile and pivot is vital to businesses being successful. Companies may also want to consider having a release for those coming back to the office to release the company of liability. Having a company release form for those coming back to the office helps protect the company from liability and helps communicate clear guidelines for employees returning to the office.
Employee Performance Metrics in a Remote Environment
It is also essential to establish and document what metrics regarding performance are going to be in a remote work environment. Leaders should focus on what work is getting done, not necessarily when and how it is done. Having metrics that measure performance and output helps managers avoid judging their employees with bias because they are working from home.
Managing Your Cash Flow
Stay on top of understanding your company’s cash position. Create a 3-4-month cash forecast and stay on top of controlling “cash in” via receivables and “cash-out” via payables. Even in a healthy economy, companies should have a strong understanding of their cash position for the next 90 days or more. Each company may experience different recoveries, and now is an excellent time to run a few scenarios.
Make sure you have the right system to manage your company’s remote workload and ensure your cybersecurity policies are up to date. People tend to let their guard down when working from home regarding cybersecurity and information security. Use this time to update policies accordingly and remind employees of the current or updated security policies.
Employee Engagement in a Remote Environment
Taking care of remote employees can be a challenge. Working from home has the unfortunate potential to erase the barrier that some people need to separate home and work life, which can create new stresses and challenges. It’s important to create opportunities for engagement on a personal level that brings hope and confidence to employees. Clear and frequent communication that provides direction and vision for the company, and employees can help employees feel supported.
This pandemic has brought new challenges and considerations to the workplace for leaders and employees that no one could have anticipated. The need to be flexible and agile has never been more necessary. It is vital for leaders not only to perform but also communicate clearly and honestly with employees to ensure changes to policies and strategies are clearly understood and executed for the success of the employees and the company.
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