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August 04, 2021 | 5 min read
6 Strategies For Developing A Return To Work Plan


As COVID trends evolve, you might be considering how and when to formally welcome staff back. While you may wish for things to return to “normal,” one thing remains clear: COVID-19 has forever changed the workplace. Employers need to stay informed of evolving governmental mandates and medical guidance to establish the protocols to protect staff when they do return to work. In short, employees will be returning to a workspace that will look very different than it once did. So, how can employers begin to prepare for re-entry?

[eBook] 2022 Hiring Outlook: Strategies For Talent Engagement in the Reimagined Workplace

While a return to work strategy may look different for every business, here are 6 considerations that you must make as you prepare for the transition:

Appoint a return to work leadership team

If you haven’t already, establishing a re-entry taskforce should be a foundational piece of your return to work plan. Members of this team should include company executives, HR representatives, and other key department heads. These individuals would be responsible for developing, implementing, communicating, updating, and answering questions about the plan.

Invest in a medical screening program

Establishing a screening process to mitigate employee risk is one of the trickiest pieces of the puzzle. Yet, it’s one of the most important. Not only can medical screening keep employees well, but it can also help mitigate the fear and anxiety about the return to work. To help make the process a little less overwhelming, consider partnering with a reputable company that can equip you with the right resources. From medical personnel, to COVID-19 guidance, it’s crucial to protect your staff.

Be supportive

You may be ready to re-open, but you probably have some employees who still do not feel comfortable going into the office. Given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, they may be struggling with very valid feelings of fear and anxiety. While you can’t eliminate these fears, you can take the steps to show your support. Encourage staff to be transparent about their feelings about the return to work, and show you are listening by responding to these concerns accordingly.

Recognize individual needs

As you navigate your company’s return to work, understand that every employee has different needs. While one might be grappling with childcare, another might have concerns about exposing an immunocompromised family member to the virus. When implementing your re-entry strategy, try to get a better gauge of these individualized needs and recognize that all employees might have to experience a different “new normal.”

Equip staff to work remotely

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that most employees have the ability to successfully work from home. With many employees preferring a remote set up, it’s time to invest in the technology and tools to make a solid work from home policy a success. At first, this may feel contradictory to a return to work plan. However, it can actually help facilitate a proper transition back to the office or to a hybrid environment—especially as it relates to scheduling, seating charts, and a unified company culture.

Read also: Remote Working Technology: 4 Tools Employers Should Invest In

Regularly evaluate and update the return to work plan

As your company re-opens, there will be a need to monitor and adjust your internal guidelines. Stay up-to-date with evolving regulations and medical guidance, while keeping in tune with your own needs. You may find that you need to tweak your return to work program to better address employee concerns, enhance its practicality, or stay in compliance with governmental mandates.

Preparing for re-entry into the workplace may be a complex and overwhelming process. As we enter a “new normal,” The Execu|Search Group is here to help you navigate this transition and keep your workplace running smoothly and safely. Learn how we can support you as you prepare for re-entry.

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