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Reopening your business post-ECQ? Here's a checklist from real HR experts

Reopening your business post-ECQ? Here's a checklist from real HR experts

Because governments all around the globe are encouraging people not to leave their homes, it seems like everything came to a standstill. Thus, these regulations also pushed businesses to operate in less conventional ways, like working from home and solely communicating through video calls.

But after one quarantine extension to another, some businesses are already prepping to get back on their feet in their own ways. Some methods will be implemented to ensure smooth operations, all while maintaining the safety and security of their employees.

JobStreet got in touch with a couple of HR professionals who shared their insights on their plans to re-open and manage their company workflow. If you’re a company HR, these steps might help you take back control of your business.

1. Abide by the government’s new interim workplace guidelines 

First and foremost, to prevent the spike of COVID-19 infection in the workplace, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have rolled out new workplace guidelines for employers to follow.

This includes guidelines on physical and mental resilience, minimizing contact rate, sanitization, and COVID-19 testing.

HR and Talent Acquisition Supervisor Joseline says they will only be sending a minority of employees back to the office. “We will be following the advise of DOLE to a manpower complement of 30% in the office and the rest still on work from home arrangements until the GCQ is already lifted.”

Moreover, make the new interim workplace guidelines accessible to all your colleagues as well, so they can be more aware and adjust accordingly.

2. Implement your own office rules 

While it is good to follow the government's advice, your company must also implement its own guidelines to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Some of the new policies you can roll out are:

  • Limiting the number of people gathering in one area, like the office lounge, pantry, and even the water dispenser.

  • Advise employees to clock out immediately after work and lessen rendering overtime.

  • Creating a “clean up” activity for the team once or twice a week

  • Limiting physical contact

These new protocols can be placed in all areas of the office by displaying bulletins or infographics. While it may take some time getting used to, the most important thing is to make everyone more cautious of their actions.

3. Sanitize the office 

Safety is the most important of all. And because of COVID-19, intense proper hygiene will definitely become a new normal. In fact, Joseline says they are preparing the procurement of disposable face masks, LCD thermometer, and disinfectants to be available for employees before they arrive.

Ensure that cleaning/hygiene products such as hand sanitizers, soap, tissues, and disinfecting sprays are always available. However, with hand sanitizers, make it a habit to sanitize its pump often too, as you never know how many people have used it. Don’t forget to disinfect objects in the office that are frequently touched by people such as doorknobs, biometrics, sinks, elevator buttons, and computer parts.

Viruses can stay on surfaces. If you know something is being used by almost everyone, make it a habit to have them washed or sanitized as often as possible.

4. Do not send everyone back to work right away 

Do not be hasty to send everyone back to the office. It is a huge risk to have all of your staff rushing to their workspaces. Even if the community quarantine is lifted altogether, take some time to make everyone feel safe.

Some companies will remain working-from-home for another month but others want to make sure that safety is certain. This is what Cris, an HR executive and Administrative Manager, and her company, will be doing till the end of the year--or until COVID-19 becomes preventable.

“We will remain on WFH until there is a vaccine. We are allocating some funds for required expenses such as COVID-19 testing and therefore, we are now on a cost-cutting program to have some savings for that,” Cris reveals.

Or, you can send a portion of the staff back to the office, but just ensure that they will be seated a safe distance away from each other.

5. Adjust work hours 

Even in the WFH set up, Cris says they have already adjusted their work hours. She says they reduced the typical 8-hour shift to 7.5 hours, with a 5-minute break to rest their eyes.

One of the recommended ways to deal with COVID-19 is for employers to make changes to their work schedules. From the standard 9 to 5 shift, DOLE is now calling on companies to adopt “flexitime” schedules, rotation, or reduced working days (i.e 1-day WFH).

This way, you are limiting the number of people coming in and out of the office who might be potential carriers of the virus.

6. Subsidize for your employees who have weak internet connection 

One of the most expected struggles of working remotely is the poor internet connection in some areas. And with almost all of us working from home, the fight for a good Wi-Fi speed is critical.

Not everyone has the privilege to install a strong Wi-Fi. With this, some companies provided prepaid portable Wi-Fi for their employees during the ECQ. “Some of the employees do not subscribe to a dedicated line with internet connection. What we did was to buy prepaid internet modem and subsidize them,” Joseline reveals.

Hence, supporting your employees during a difficult time is very important. Either provide them with a prepaid connection or an additional internet “allowance” in their salary so they can upgrade to a better speed.

7. Always have an open communication 

With everyone dealing with this situation differently, you must be able to be upfront about yours. “Being transparent with bad news is actually welcome. And these young employees will not rebel against it when you communicate clearly and accord them respect as a professional.” Cris says.

Joseline also recommends developing a Business Continuity Plan when those difficult situations arise. Moreover, creating a Crisis Management Committee to meet once a week will help provide updates and address company issues.

She says, “Be transparent on what is going on with the company, more especially when you need to let go of people. If possible and if finances permit, provide financial assistance.”

Cristina Estacio–Reclamado has been an Executive HR and Administrative Manager for E-commerce Global Integrated Innovations Inc. since August 2018. She is a graduate of De La Salle University with a degree in Human Resource Management and has an MA Units in Communication Research from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. With this, Cris has had an extensive career path working in the field of media and human resources. Currently, she is pursuing certifying studies as Expressive Arts Facilitator from Renaissance Life Therapies.

Joseline Alosbaños graduated with a degree in Industrial Psychology from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She started working in HR as a personnel assistant in 1992 with Café Elysee, an SM Affiliate and has since then had a long and extensive life in human resources working for different companies. She is currently the HR & Talent Acquisition Supervisor of Velocity Solutions Inc.

This article is created in partnership with HR Shouts and Whispers HR Shouts and Whispers is a Facebook Community set up in 2018 for both HR and non-HR professionals to appreciate and understand people management concepts. The group produces content and is a medium that encourages discussion of pressing HR issues, mental health concerns, and other phenomena that impact the lifestyles of professionals.  

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