How Employers Can Support Employees as They Return to Work

Image Source: Sean Pollock

Return-to-Office Basics

As employees are returning to the office there are many adjustments needed to ensure a safe, sanitary and healthy work environment. Check out the following recommendations by the federal government to help keep your office safe and COVID-19 free:

  1. Develop and implement appropriate workplace safety policies regarding:
    • Social distancing and protective equipment
    • Temperature checks
    • Testing, isolating, and contact tracing
    • Sanitation
    • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
    • Business travel
      *Employers are encouraged to follow federal, state, and local regulations and guidance in developing these policies, informed as necessary by industry best practices.
  2. Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms.
    Employers are encouraged not to let symptomatic people physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider.
  3. Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following a positive COVID-19 test in the workplace.
    Employers should continue to ask infected employees to identify all individuals who worked in close proximity (within six feet) for a prolonged period of time (10 minutes or more to 30 minutes or more depending upon particular circumstances, such as how close the employees worked and whether they shared tools or other items) with them during the 48-hour period before the onset of symptoms. Employers should send home all employees who worked closely with the infected employee to ensure the infection does not spread.1

How to Social Distance in the Office

Before employees return to the office it’s important to implement social distancing guidelines to ensure the workspace is safe and comfortable. By altering the office to adhere to social distancing guidelines you will decrease the chances of transmission to employees and customers. Below are new procedures your business can practice:

  • Implement flexible worksites (e.g., telework).
  • Implement flexible work hours (e.g., rotate or stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the workplace at the same time).
  • Increase physical space between employees at the worksite by modifying the workspace.
  • Increase physical space between employees and customers (e.g., drive-through service, physical barriers such as partitions).
  • Use signs, tape marks, or other visual cues such as decals or colored tape on the floor, placed 6 feet apart, to indicate where to stand when physical barriers are not possible.
  • Implement flexible meeting and travel options (e.g., postpone non-essential meetings or events in accordance with state and local regulations and guidance).
  • Close or limit access to common areas where employees are likely to congregate and interact.
  • Prohibit handshaking.
  • Deliver services remotely (e.g., phone, video, or web).
  • Adjust your business practices to reduce close contact with customers — for example, by providing drive-through service, click-and-collect online shopping, shop-by-phone, curbside pickup, and delivery options, where feasible.
  • Move the electronic payment terminal/credit card reader farther away from the cashier, if possible, to increase the distance between the customer and the cashier.
  • Shift primary stocking activities to off-peak or after hours, when possible, to reduce contact with customers.

*If you have more than one business location, consider giving local managers the authority to take appropriate actions outlined in their COVID-19 response plans based on their local conditions.2

As always, the continuous practice of disinfecting, handwashing and sanitizing is very important to keeping the office a healthy and comfortable place for employers and employees. Getting back to the office can seem daunting but team encouragement will ensure the office and place you call home can stay virus free.  

Tria Health is providing additional communication and outreach to stress the importance of good health management and inform members that Tria’s pharmacists are a valuable and convenient resource during this current health crisis. Tria Health is committed to assisting members with any questions they may have about their medications, risk factors or ways they can mitigate their risk. 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.fisherphillips.com/post-pandemic-faqs#L1
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Working From Home

Image Source: Sven Brandsma/Unsplash

Making the Switch

As those with the ability to work from home have probably learned, it’s a lot different than going into the office. Although production and availability can increase, separating work from home can get more complicated. If you don’t use available resources early, it can only get worse. Those working from home for the first time have probably noticed how much verbal communication plays a role in the office and how productivity works throughout the week. Asking a question by peeping your head over the cubicle or walking down the hall is no longer that simple. It can be if you stay up to date on communication software and available technology your employers employ. But just having them downloaded to your computer and phone doesn’t solve all communication problems. Doing a quick Google search about the program can give you articles, tutorials, and videos to help improve your work-flow ability. Transitioning to working from home can be difficult and takes time to understand your schedule while managing all the other distractions around you at home.

Physical Health

Now more than ever it is essential to listen to your body and keep up with or even start those healthy routines. Just because you’re in the comfort of your home doesn’t make anything simpler, it can sometimes make things more complicated. All those times you walk around to ask questions, pick a paper up off the printer, grab a snack from the kitchen or get up to move in general you’re not doing anymore while being stuck behind that screen. It’s easy to get busy so don’t forget to move around throughout the day. Adding some sunshine will even help boost your mood and productivity. Taking some time at your desk to stretch and re-group in between meetings or projects can help create a transition too.

Mental Health

Monitoring your mental health during this time is just as important as physical health. Everyone has had to make drastic changes to their everyday life and its crucial to recognize those and work through the struggles that can arise. For those prone to anxiety and depression it’s important to recognize your feelings and work through them in ways that have worked in the past, such as reading, staying connected or even remote therapy.1 Being aware of your mood and behavior throughout this time will be valuable to your working from home experience. Always be mindful and reach out to the appropriate people if necessary.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Create a designated workspace to ensure the separation of work and home.
  2. Avoid being stuck in the same chair all day. Take the dogs for a walk, check the mail, or take a call outside, just try your best not to get cabin fever.
  3. Overcommunicate with everyone and never feel like you’re asking a ‘dumb’ question.
  4. Create a routine for before, during, and after work to hold yourself accountable.
  5. Block off time to handle things that may be distracting to you and/or your work (i.e. kids and homework schedules, etc.)
  6. Take advantage of this time at home. This may be the only time you get to work from home so throw that load of laundry in at lunch. Eat lunch with your quarantine crew while you have the chance.

Do what’s best for you!

If you have a chronic condition, these changes may be having a bigger impact on you and staying healthy is more important than ever. While the transition from the office to home may seem simple, you need to establish a routine to ensure you’re effectively managing your health. If you have any questions related to your condition management or medications, call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742. Tria Health is a no cost benefit provided through select health plans.

Sources:

  1. https://www.fastcompany.com/90479504/how-to-maintain-your-mental-health-while-working-from-home