4 Steps to Creating (and Communicating) a COVID-19 Workplace Policy

Your employees are heading back into the office, and they’re unsure of what to expect—and what’s expected of them. Here’s how to get everyone on the same page about the post-COVID workplace.
4 Steps to Creating (and Communicating) a COVID-19 Workplace Policy
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Employees are returning to offices—and masks are coming off. But not everyone is getting vaccinated. 

What’s an HR admin to do? First, don’t panic.

Creating and distributing a thoughtful and clearly defined COVID-19 workplace policy will help your employees navigate these back-to-office changes, and make sure that everyone feels safe—and included. 

Not sure where or how to get started? We’ve created this four-step plan to help you create a COVID-19 workplace policy that not only addresses employees’ needs, but evolves with today’s ever-changing world of work.

Step #1: Plan

The first step in creating a COVID-19 workplace policy requires HR teams to think through the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why. 

This includes:

Who is (and isn’t) returning to the office (e.g., all employees, those who are participating in a hybrid work model, a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, etc.) and how will your new policy make sure all employees feel included.

What employees will need to feel safe, protected, and supported (everyone will wear masks; only unvaccinated employees will be required to wear masks; and so on).

Where employees will work when they’re back in the office, including where they will engage with their colleagues (in the hallways, in break rooms), where they will gather for meetings (in conference rooms, virtually, or a hybrid of both), and so on.

When employees will return, i.e., in stages, rotating staff, just for team meetings, etc.

Why you’re implementing new workplace policies in the first place. Are your employees driving the return to the office? Do the majority want to work from the office a few days a week, or remain working remotely altogether?

Step #2: Communicate

Once you’ve decided how you’ll bring employees back safely—and what new guidelines and requirements will go into your COVID-19 workplace policy—the next step is to communicate the policy to your employees. 

Implementing a new (read: successful) workplace policy will require consistent and timely communication that meets employees where they are:

In team meetings: Ask your leaders to communicate the new policy during regular team meetings and 1:1s, and request that they ask for feedback about what’s working and what’s not.

Online: Post your COVID-19 workplace policy on the company intranet; include the update in your internal email newsletter; dedicate a Slack channel for return-to-office policies (and growing pains). The latter will help open up two-way communication about the policy, as well.

In common spaces: Don’t discount the power of a flyer in a break room, a placard at the reception desk, or anywhere else a physical reminder can be posted and viewed by your in-office employees.

Step #3: Act

Now that your COVID-19 workplace policy has been established and communicated via all forums, it’s time to keep the conversation going with your employees. That means addressing the concerns voiced by your employees—whether it was to their leaders directly or via the Slack channel you set up in step #2. Doing so will help them feel safe and supported—and they will be more likely to comply with your policy if they feel like their voices have been heard. 

Step #4: Adapt

As CDC guidance for businesses and employers continues to evolve, it will be important to continue updating your COVID-19 workplace policy to adhere to the latest guidance, as well. 

Likewise, your employees’ statuses may change, too. Employees that had not been vaccinated may become vaccinated, and that might change the way policies—such as a requirement to wear a mask in the office—apply to them (or not).

Essential reading: 11 Tips on Returning to Work Safely

As such, it’s critical to keep a pulse on the ever-changing needs of your people, and adapt your workplace policies to keep them safe.

We know constantly changing COVID-19 workplace policies can be a lot for a small HR team (or a team of one) to keep up with. Our software can help you distribute, track, and store documents and trainings so you can stay up to date on the other pressing items on your to-do list. 

See how workplace policies can be managed in our all-in-one HR platform.

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