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Is Your Workplace Safe for a Post-Pandemic Transition?

Ongoing challenges of the pandemic make clear that we need to plan carefully for a possible return-to-workplace scenario. In this blog, you’ll find a good outline of safe workplace objectives and a great program for training new safe workplace ambassadors who will be key to effectively make this transition.

The global pandemic required immediate changes and restructuring of the workplace in real-time. As companies contemplate reopening, there will be a need to re–imagine the workplace of the future. In designing workflows in a post-pandemic world, it will be imperative to reflect on the pandemic experience and maintain and learn from the best virtual “covid” practices and policies whilst redesigning and rethinking new ways of working together.

In this rethinking and planning phase, employee engagement will be essential to:

■ maintain and build employee trust
■ ensure that the return-to-work scenario is safe both in reality and perception
■ meet the individual needs of the employees who have home obligations such as children’s education and eldercare

While some employees will remain entirely virtual in their post-pandemic workplace, others will return to work physically as per the pre-pandemic protocol. However, the majority of workforces will fall into a hybrid scenario. The hybrid scenario will involve workplace attendance 2-3 days a week, complemented with home office virtual connection for the balance of the week.

The objectives of finding the balance between the best of the physical and the pandemic virtual working experience will be:

■ building organizational culture
■ strengthening trust in the employee/employer relationship
■ fostering teamwork
■ creating a greater level of engagement through in-person interactions

Personal health and safety is the primary concern facing workers in a return-to-work transition in a newly designed workplace. Environmental and physical protocols are being designed by employers to ensure a return-to-workplace scenario that is effective and protects their employees’ well-being. Most employers are currently preparing return–to–work plans and procedures as we optimistically foresee a reopening scenario unfolding in 2021, enabled by vaccine availability and robust infection control procedures.

Reopening planning is a critical challenge facing many companies in all settings: industrial, commercial, small, and large enterprises across all public and private sectors. The underlying issue is a lack of trained skilled resources in occupational health and safety to ensure the required focus on infection control and prevention practices. This creates a risk for the sustainability of the workplaces and the well-being of their workforce.

New service providers who do have the required expertise are emerging to help organizations reopen safely. For example, Shaping Minds in Healthcare Inc. is an Ontario based company founded by Debbie Duclos, RN President and CEO. They offer a one-step training solution in the comprehensive Infection Control & Prevention (ICAP) Program. Their services are delivered interactively, virtually or in-person by experienced RNs complemented by Dr. Dale Kalina, Infectious Diseases & Internal Medicine Specialist.

The program includes an interactive and empowering training session delivered live or virtually which covers:

■ principles of infection control
■ proper handwashing technique
■ mask-wearing standards
■ social distancing protocols
■ appropriate surface disinfection
■ other proper use of PPE

The program focuses on creating and empowering ambassadors in the workplace who will own the responsibility individually and collectively to keep their workplace safe. The education and adopted practices will be monitored through an ongoing subscription service and the creation of local ambassadors in the workplace.

If you are an employer or manager with return-to-workplace concerns, I invite you to view Dr. Kalina’s upcoming Webinar. The Shaping Minds clinical team featuring Dr. Kalina will be sharing their perspectives on pandemic management in the workplace as well as more information on the Shaping Minds in Healthcare Infection Control program.

The views expressed in this document are solely the views of the author(s). This document is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case or circumstance.

September 28, 2021

"The New Normal?” Managing The Return to the Worksplace

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