Reopening your company's IT operations after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns will be anything but business as usual. As the director of IT for your company, it is up to you to formulate a reopening strategy that re-establishes operations and re-instills confidence in your workforce. Here’s a detailed checklist to help you get started.
The new normal will include increased sanitation protocols to ensure commonly used surfaces are kept as germ-free as possible, even while in use. Work with your employees to make this process an all-hands evolution; maximum sanitation is, after all, everyone’s responsibility.
- Before employees return, hire a professional cleaning crew to sanitize computers and hardware. Consider continuing this on a regular schedule.
- Establish a new protocol for staff to clean nearby devices and surfaces. Set a timer for scheduled cleanings/wipe-downs by staff members.
- Have sanitation products such as disinfectant sprays, hand sanitizers, and soaps readily available for employees.
- Consult with the legal department to craft waivers to protect the business in case someone does get sick and infects others.
- Consider appointing a Health & Hygiene Coordinator to help promote healthy practices among employees. Explore new ways to make it fun!
What once seemed invasive in American society is now the new normal for staying healthy and protecting the health of others. However, establishing these protective protocols shows employees and clients alike that their health is of primary concern to your company.
- All IT team members should have protective equipment that they wear and also sanitize.
- Provide and set a protocol for protective equipment (wearing masks, gloves when appropriate).
- Install partitions between desks to help isolate open work spaces and prevent the spread of germs.
- Again, here is an area to allow a limited level of personalization in order for employees to blow off the stress of even having protective equipment needed. Encourage individuality and creativity within reason.
You will likely have to completely rethink how the office setup will look and function in order to maintain social distancing and other health protocols. Employees must still interact; but the goal is to limit inadvertent interaction as much as possible while making it safer to interact.
- Proximity to others in the office will be vital. A great way to minimize the amount of potential interactions between colleagues is by reducing the capacity of employees that are within the office. Prioritize the roles that are essential to be in the office while allowing others to work from home.
- Try not to have meetings with more than 4 people in person or in a conference room. In-office teleconferencing is a great solution. A solution for in-office teleconferencing would be worth investing in are individual meeting rooms/booths for uninterrupted meetings from external distractions and noises.
- Consider changing how computer workstations are situated to minimize directional breathing and inadvertent spreading of germs.
- Look at former traffic patterns for employees and try to establish a new floor plan and traffic guide to help employees maintain safe distances while still being productive.
With increased privacy in workspaces and the possibility of people moving through workspaces who have little or no knowledge of security protocols (like cleaning crews), a new focus on tight security protocols will be necessary.
- Cleaning crews will come through offices opening up security concerns. Update your process to ensure that data, passwords, and access is not easily available.
- Regularly remind employees about email security and password protection protocols.
- Increased vigilance will be necessary to catch security slip-ups or violations.
- Make mental health resources available to combat the ‘silent epidemic.’ COVID-19 related stress can lower productivity and endanger employee mental health and morale; this itself is a top security concern.
Outline your company’s key protocols and procedures for returning to the workplace in a formal Pandemic Recovery Plan. Prepare employees as early as possible about the necessary changes they will face, the reasons for them, and how to handle them with the least amount of stress. For other guidelines for reopening, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their recommendations.