While some high-profile companies are delaying the return to in-person work, other organizations can’t wait that long. But given scientific uncertainty and inconsistent policies across different counties, states, and countries, each organization has to balance its business interests with health imperatives and the safety and needs of its customers and employees—a responsibility many enterprises were not designed to take on. How can organizational leaders make clear-eyed decisions about workplace reentry while operating in an extended state of emergency? A workplace safety program grounded in science, technology, and communications expertise can help.
We have developed a four-step framework to help organizations maintain a safe workplace in a COVID-19 world.
Step 1: Guide
Companies looking to develop a plan for a safe, phased, return to onsite work find themselves dealing with a host of new—and unfamiliar—public-health guidelines. That’s why the first step is having the right guide and plan, and this includes a technology solution to execute it. Those working onsite expect a plan to address not only workplace safety and health, but also fear and anxiety.
When should employees reenter the workplace? How can they do so in a way that balances safety with productivity? We can answer questions such as these and guide teams in developing effective strategies to assure employees and customers of your preparedness and commitment to a safe work environment.
“Creating the right guidance to support business operations and your workforce is key—developing protocols and tools to support critical business operations while ensuring that current public health guidance is being followed for the safety of your workforce and customers. By establishing critical metrics and milestones at the outset, you can adapt your guiding materials as you observe what works and what doesn’t and as public health needs may change.”
— Elizabeth Vaughn, Senior Research Scientist, ICF
Step 2: Translate
Any robust return-to-workplace plan will contain a tangle of guidelines and recommendations. In many cases, all this information requires translation into actionable information so businesses can figure out how to address the COVID-19 pandemic right now.
When developing reentry plans and processes, several key strategies can bolster the effective translation of complex, ever-changing guidelines and requirements. By synthesizing and communicating existing information from public health professionals and subject matter experts in a clear, relatable manner, you can avoid a cacophony of conflicting advice that may not work for your size and style of business.
But translating guidelines is only part of the equation. It’s also essential to understand public sentiment in order to position your recommendations for successful adoption. We combine public health expertise with robust survey research capabilities to help organizations prioritize and communicate guidelines effectively.
Step 3: Monitor and inform
Once the strategy and guidelines are in place, it’s time to put technology to work for your organization. Regardless of how far along you were in your IT modernization journey prior to the pandemic, you are now on an accelerated timeline—seeking tools to help you stand up new processes, manage facilities, follow health guidelines, mitigate risk, and communicate effectively with your workforce as the crisis evolves, and you need all this to happen fast.
Appian has responded to the urgent business need for safety with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that can be stood up quickly, and with little to no assistance. In partnership with our public health experts, Appian provides essential tools for monitoring and informing the workforce, including an automated response hub and a mobile app for both iOS and Android for workforce health screening and onsite access verification.
Learn more about Appian's Workforce Safety solution.
Step 4: Communicate
As safety plans regarding the COVID-19 pandemic evolve, organizations want to stay in constant communication with employees and customers, but with a continually evolving situation, this can be a challenge. ICF and Appian Workforce Safety make communication with your most important assets—your people—concise, understandable, and accessible.
ICF Next, our team of strategic communications and marketing experts, can design outreach efforts across multiple audiences to share your workplace reentry plans. Through communications expertise in public health, the team brings reliable, consistent information on all your safety measures and considerations.
“The first part of any outreach strategy should be to step back and listen. Understand your employees’ point of view, sentiments, and risk tolerance. By listening, you’ll get a sense of what they’ve learned and, in turn, you can tailor your communications to specifically address their pains, gains, and points of view.”
— Cindy Auten, Senior Partner, Government Communications and Marketing Strategies, ICF Next