Managing Your Employees’ “Return to Office” Process

Governments at all levels are evaluating their timeline and policies for lifting quarantine restrictions.  Similarly, business owners and executives should be planning now for how they will proceed with returning employees to the office (RTO).

The shift to working remotely was very abrupt and rapid.  Fortunately, we have a little more time and consideration to manage the return to the office.

Like business resiliency plans, bringing your employees back to the office, and re-opening your business requires planning and execution.  It’s a multi-disciplinary approach, crossing functions such as:

  • Communications – Internal and external
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Legal
  • Management

The processes and policies that we define now are not without risk.  We have to respect our employees and customers, but we must also consider meeting regulatory requirements, as well as limiting liability and legal risk.  Having written policies is key.  Here’s a couple primary considerations:

  • What source will trigger your “Return to Office”?  CDC, State, Local?
  • Is the RTO comprehensive across our employee base, or incremental?  If incremental, what is the criteria and timing
  • What safety and preventive measures will we put in place, and how will they be enforced?  Masks, temperature checks, distancing aids and signage
  • How do we balance information sharing with privacy for employees who get sick?
  • How do we manage outside vendors, visitors, and other non-employees?
  • Are all our plans reviewed for regulatory and legal compliance?

Like most formal business processes and plans, we should follow definitive steps:

  • Identify requirements and vulnerabilities
  • Develop plans and policies accordingly
  • Deploy processes and resources to support the policies

Managing the process well is a key element in keeping the employees and the company safe and secure, and sustaining our brand and reputation.