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by Addie Linn | May 14, 2020

So, your employees have navigated the whole #WorkFromHome situation and are finally getting settled in… now what? As stay-at-home orders are beginning to lift and companies start to look at transitioning back into the workplace, it’s not hard to feel overwhelmed when thinking about “the new normal.” What policies are short term and what adjustments will remain in place for the long haul? 

On the latest TeamKC Virtual Coffee Chat, our network came together to discuss just that. Additionally, several civic leaders from organizations across the region joined us to share the #SafeReturnKC guide, a document outlining best practices and suggestions for getting back into the workplace. You can listen to the full coffee chat on the latest episode of the TeamKC podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play. Check out the highlights from this conversation: 

Created by TeamKC’s parent organization, the Kansas City Area Development Council, along with the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce, Mid-America Regional Council and the KC Civic Council, this document can serve as a jumping off point for companies looking to get back into physical spaces. Know that the return to the workplace will happen in phases and may be not linear. Pay close attention to your local community guidelines, as these will be the most relevant to your specific business. For more information, including PPE resources and a listing of regional return plans, check out TeamKC’s list of resources. 

If you can stay home, why not?
If possible, consider keeping your employees at home for a bit longer.  Especially if your employees have had success working from home, there’s no pressure to race back to the office. Bring employees back gradually in waves, as outlined in the #SafeReturnKC guide. Generally, the consensus among recruiters is that new employees should be hired and onboarded remotely, starting off the new gig at home from the get-go. No matter who is in your workplace, you’ll want to keep track of your max capacity number. Try this app for counting employees, customers, etc. 

Lead with compassion.
As we enter the who-knows-what week of working from home, know that employees may be feeling cooped up, stressed out and in need of flexibility. Mental health can play a huge role in your bottom line. Happy, healthy employees are guaranteed to be more productive. It’s more important than ever to offer resources to help your team feel its best. Consider offering a teletherapy option or having an “on-site” mental health counselor. At the very least, be prepared to point employees in the right direction when it comes to mental and physical health resources. 

Communicate your efforts.
Don’t be shy when it comes to bragging about your company’s COVID-19 response. If the organization has provided extra benefits and flexibility to employees, be sure to bring that up in interviews with your candidates. You don’t even need to wait for them to ask!

Interns are still the talk of the town. 
Whether you’ve cancelled your program or not, there are still ways to engage your summer interns. If you’re not able to provide a virtual internship, consider staying in touch with those would-have-been interns with a variety of programming throughout the summer. Offer masterclasses, one-on-one mentoring and opportunities to connect with company leadership are just a few ways to keep students connected. 

The most important takeaway… 
Every company should do what’s right for its employees. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to returning to the workplace. Take advantage of community resources and stay as up-to-date as possible. Under the leadership of KC’s brilliant HR professionals, we have no doubt that workers will transition back smoothly. 

Learn more about TeamKC tools and resources.

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