The sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has unleashed havoc on the global business environment. Leaving the entire world in a topsy-turvy situation only the supply of essential commodities remained undisrupted during this lockdown period. In India, the government at the Centre imposed lockdown forcing employees to work from home.

After the relaxation of the lockdown with certain guidelines both the employer and the employee is apprehensive about returning to the workplace. Indeed, you must be anxious as to how you would return to your workplace amidst all this chaos and fear. The present situation is indeed very unpredictable and uncertain. However, companies here have to play an extremely proactive and strategic role in ensuring the return of its employees to the workplace. The employer should endeavour towards alleviating the fear and anxiety of its employees by creating an atmosphere of confidence, support and peace at the workplace.

Steps taken by the Management

The present situation is full of uncertainty and fear and every individual should face it with courage and an agile mind. Here, the management of the company needs to take some decisive steps to address the fear of its employees about returning to the workplace.

1. Communicate clearly with your employees: Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic and the imposition of the lockdown, the business scenario has gone through various ups and downs. Both the employer and the employee have been apprehensive about the situation and what the future holds for everyone. Here, it is imperative for the employer to communicate regularly and clearly about any changes being made in its polices. The companies have been making frequent changes in its polices keeping the situation in mind. For instance, to keep the business running as usual, most of the companies have permitted their employees to work from home.

Hence, the employer should communicate and keep updating its employees about the business prospects and how it intends to keep the business running in the present precarious situation.

2. Involve employees in your plan of action: As an employer, you can alleviate the fear of your employees when you taken them into confidence. You, need to involve your employees in designing the alternate plan of action. You can do this by conducting online surveys and collecting their feedback and finally, developing your plan of action.

Always remember that employees are the backbone of your company. If they feel worried or anxious, this will have a direct impact on the business of your company. So, ensure to keep your employees in loop and take action accordingly to handle the present unpredictable situation.

3. Take cue from other industry leaders: You, as an employer, also need to consult the leaders of other industries and verticals and find out their way of handling return to the workplace. In this way, you might come across distinct ways of dealing with this scenario. In addition, it is always, advisable to discuss with your counterparts since this fear and anxiety is bound to have a negative impact on your business.

4. Mentally prepare yourself to face different kinds of circumstances: Both the employer and the employee have to be mentally prepared to face any kind of adverse situation in the backdrop of the prevalence of Covid-19. This virus is here to stay for a while until a vaccine comes up and reaches the masses. Until then, we all have to work on our immunity and mental well-being to tackle the situation wisely.

There could be employees whose elder parents have been hospitalised during this Corona period. Or else, there could be parents who are trying to make their kids understand –how and why to remain indoors—during the Corona period. So, the employer needs to be prepared to handle diverse issues with its workforce keeping in mind the precarious situation at hand.

However, being mentally prepared will help the employee to deal with all kinds of anxiety and fear; even if it implies returning to the workplace!

5. Empathise with your employees: Believe me, these are hard times! As an employer, you need to understand the personal situation of your employees and empathise with them. This will give your employees the feeling that they are valued and that the company is concerned about their well-being. When the employee gets the feeling of being valued, he feels motivated to work harder than ever before.

6. Maintain a safe workplace: Last, but not the least, it is extremely essential to follow all the guidelines of maintaining a safe working place for the employees. The employer needs to ensure that when the employees begin to reach office—their body temperature is checked and standard health screenings measures are undertaken.  The employer needs to ensure that the sitting arrangement is revised while maintaining one arm’s distance between two employees. Sanitizer bottles should be made available at every corner of the office.

Moreover, common use places such as cafeteria and washrooms should be used under strict hygiene guidelines. Also, the employer should make use of videoconferencing while doing a team meet within the office premises to maintain social distancing.

The employer needs to communicate all the measures that will be taken to ensure a safe working place for its employees. This will certainly lessen the fear and anxiety of the employees and give rise to the hope of returning to office.

Therefore, to conclude, companies and corporate houses should take all the necessary steps to address and lessen the fear of its employees. It is but natural to fear returning to the workplace. However, business has to bounce back, and this is possible only when employees feel safe to return to their workstations with proper hygiene and safety measures in place.

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