Your employees have been working from home for several months now, and your company is re-opening the office. What’s next? While you may have spent months crafting your Return-to-Office plan, your next step will be communicating it to your employees. Use our editable Return-to-Office Training Template below to develop a comprehensive employee training tailored to your company’s needs. If you’re just starting to think about re-opening, you can find more information in our COVID-19 Resources.
This article will cover:
- Why your company needs Return-to-Office Training
- What type of training is right for your company and team
- Tips for a successful training
- What you should include in your Return-to-Office Training
Why your company needs Return-to-Office Training
By now, almost everyone is aware of the coronavirus pandemic and standard safety protocols like mask-wearing and hand-washing. So, why is return-to-office training necessary?
Return to Office Training can Alleviate Employee Fears
According to Qualtrics’ Back to Business Study in July 2020, 61% of Americans feel uncomfortable returning to their workplaces. Having a return-to-office training is an essential step to addressing your team’s concerns and ensuring compliance.
Most businesses have implemented specific COVID-19 protocols, sanitizing measures, and physical changes to the office to reduce risk. Outlining these measures and reassuring employees that their health remains a top priority are crucial to gaining employee trust.
Return to Office Training Prepares Employees for Changes and sets Clear Expectations
Your return-to-office training should prepare your employees for what changes they can expect and what your company expects of them. Clarifying these expectations will increase compliance and reduce negative interactions. Some examples:
- Your office capacity and in-office scheduling process may have changed.
Depending on your office size, layout, or location you may be able to accommodate only a limited percentage of your employees in the office. You should have a clear process for how employees book workspaces, where they can sit, and how frequently they are able to come to the office. Check out Worksphere’s capacity planning and in-office scheduling tools to help automate your capacity limits and desk booking process.
- Your office floor plan may have changed.
In order to promote social distancing, you may have moved desks, closed certain parts of your office for shared use, or installed one-way walkways in tight hallways or entry points. Ease your team into the new normal by showing them what they can expect.
- Your employees may not be up-to-date.
Regional differences and frequent changes in policies and regulations have caused confusion, and misinformation is unfortunately rampant. Make sure your employees are on the same page and informed of the most current information to reduce confusion.
- You want your employees to feel confident about returning to the office.
Providing your company’s plans for overall employee safety and expected response if someone does contract COVID-19 can help your employees make an informed response on whether returning to the office is the right choice for them.
What type of training is right for my Company and Team?
When preparing for your training, consider the benefits and challenges of different training formats to find the right fit for your office.
- Benefits: In-person training at your workspace is the best way to demonstrate physical changes to your workplace.
- Challenges: In-person training can increase risk of exposure to you and your employees. Prior to receiving the information, employees may not feel comfortable coming in for training.
To prepare for an In-Person Training:
- Space seating more than 6ft (2m) apart and consider assigning seats so people can go directly to their spot.
- Stagger arrival times to enable social distancing
- Schedule smaller groups over multiple days to minimize interactions. (Worksphere’s in-office scheduling tools make it easy to set schedules)
- Properly sanitize your office and training area before and after each training session.
Live Virtual Training
- Benefits: If you are interested in limiting physical proximity, virtual trainings are the way to go. More people can attend a single training, reducing the time burden of those conducting the training. Employees are able to give immediate feedback or ask questions.
- Challenges: While “Zooming in” has become ubiquitous during the pandemic, it may be difficult to maintain focus and know if your employees are engaging with the material.
To prepare for Live Virtual Training:
- Ensure people have access to training materials in advance.
- Consider assigning smaller break-out groups with moderators to increase opportunities for discussion and engagement.
- Record your training and send it to your team afterwards as a reference.
- Benefits: Recorded Trainings are the most scalable and consistent option because a single recorded training can be used for the entire company. Employees can access the recording at their convenience.
- Challenges: A lack of interaction is the biggest drawback to virtual training. Ensuring the recording and format is high-quality is important. You also need a way to verify that your employees have completed the training.
To prepare for Recorded Training:
- Ensure your recording is easy to understand by breaking it up into multiple, shorter videos if necessary.
- Check for employee comprehension using a free tool like Google Forms, or a more robust learning management system.
- Make sure your employees have a way to submit questions or concerns and receive a response after the training.
Tips For a Successful Training
You may find that a combination of the above training methods works best for your team. Regardless of which style you choose, the content should:
Be clear and easy to understand
There may be a lot of information to share, but remember that less is often more! Make use of lists, highlighted areas, and images to make important points.
Training is most effective when you engage employees and encourage participation. Make parts of the training interactive with quizzes or demonstrations to keep employees focused.
Research and address employee concerns
Before creating your training, send out an online survey or schedule some time with employees to understand their needs and concerns regarding returning to the workplace. This allows you to create an effective back-to-work and training plan that addresses major concerns.
Be prepared with resources
Supplement your training with resources that your employees can reference on a later date. Employee Handbooks are a great resource to keep your employees informed as information and protocols evolve.
What you should include in Return-to-Office Training
While your return to work training should be specific to your workspace’s needs, there are some topics that all companies should include. Making sure you have the most accurate and up-to-date information from the WHO, CDC, and your local health department is a must. We recommend including the following topics in your return-to-office training.
A basic COVID-19 overview can help your employees understand the importance of the training session. If you are getting some tricky questions from your employees during your training, the World Health Organization has a great page going over the myths of COVID-19 that you can reference. Because guidelines are different depending on area, check your health department for the most up-to-date regulations.
Changes could include new sanitation protocols, physical changes to the floor plan or layout, and new desk configurations. If you are moving to a system where employees are using flexible space on a first-come, first-served basis (hotdesking or hotelling) provide an overview of what software tools you are using to implement this and how they should be used.
If your safety plan includes employee symptom screening, outline how and when this screening will occur, who conducts it, and what employee options are if they choose to not participate. You can implement HIPAA-compliant wellness/symptom checks through tools like Worksphere that automate notifications, self-screening, and reminders for employees scheduled to be in office.
Reviewing your office sanitization plan in your training increases confidence that workspaces are properly cleaned and sanitized. Consider including your employees in office sanitation measures by setting up Sanitation Stations, allowing high-touch surfaces to be disinfected more frequently.
Employee Behavior Guidelines
During training, you should review the role employees play in collectively maintaining a safe office environment. Guidelines should include expectations on in-office behavior like social distancing, handshakes, where and when masks should be worn, and proper hand washing. Some offices have also issued guidelines on how employee behavior outside of the office might affect access, like mandating work from home after travel.
Changes to Benefits or Work From Home Policies
Share any changes to your health insurance or sick time policies. For example, many health insurers have issued specific policies around COVID-19 treatment and testing. If your company has relaxed or updated its work from home policy temporarily or permanently to reflect greater flexibility in light of the pandemic, make sure the new policy has been communicated to your team.
Whether your team has already returned to the office or plans to soon, training your employees is an important first step that should not be overlooked. Tools such as Worksphere can help you and your employees return to work safely. Give it a try today!