If you told me in January that I’d spend a week in May:

  • Holding a surprise car parade (“What’s a car parade?”, I’d be asking) for my wife’s birthday;
  • Sitting 10 feet apart outside in a cul-de-sac with a friend sharing stories;
  • Wearing a Hartford Whalers mask when walking outside;
  • Receiving online grocery deliveries (and wiping off the groceries upon arrival);
  • Having a law school class reunion on Zoom (“What is Zoom?”), and,
  • Doing all my work at home (with multiple video calls a week!);

I’d have said that you have quite a colorful imagination.

And yet here we are.

Despite the madness of the last two months, the fact remains that we are all pretty resiliant in way or the other.

We adapt.

Things that were completely foreign to us only two months ago, are now seemingly a way of life.  Most of us are doing what we need to do to survive and stay safe.

For employers, this week presents a new challenge — adapting to the new rules of reopening which are still set for May 20th.

There are a lot of rules that have been set forth by the government here in Connecticut to reopen. But here are five things employers should consider before reopening:

  • Develop a reopening plan and timeline.  That means taking a look at the functions that are most essential.  Which tasks do you need to have done in the office? Which employees are crucial to getting those tasks done? Keep in mind the mandate that those that can still work from home should still work from home.  The plan ought to be flexible and employers will be capped on 50% capacity anyways.
  • Sweat the details.  In working with employers seeking to reopen their offices slowly, the employers have to think about all the small details. Conference rooms. Common areas. Elevators. Bathroom cleanings. Even the employee’s commute and child care.  No detail is too small.
  • Secure masks and, even gloves.  Employees will be required to wear masks and face coverings most of the time. (Some exception is made to a private office).  Employers will be required to provide one to employees, particularly if they do not have one.  (Employees can wear their own.) Make sure to secure this supply before reopening.
  • Develop a training program.  The rules for reopening require employers to provide their staff with training on how to stay safe in the workplace. Designate an administrator to this program (someone in HR or operations, for example) and review it periodically to make sure that it addresses all the key items.
  • Once you’re ready, be sure to submit the self-certification. I previously provided a link in a prior post. But this should only be done when you’re ready to reopen.  You’ll then be given a print out of the certification and you should post this around the office.

Employers in the hospitality industry have additional requirements to comply with. Whatever the sector rules are for reopening, employers ought to be sure that they are meeting all the requirements.

At a minimum, consider talking with legal counsel to understand all the rules that have been put in place for employers and any questions that you may still have.

Above all – take it slow. Employees are understandably nervous about going into a workplace.  And you don’t want to open up, only to have to isolate everyone again. Consider going to a 4 day on, 10 day off schedule.