Employer’s Guide for Returning to Work

by Katie Sawyer, 4 minutes read
HOME blog employers guide for returning to work

Over the past several weeks, the world has been rocked by the impact of COVID-19. Some businesses, like Farmer Copleys, have adapted to a new way of work. Others have needed to temporarily close per government orders.

As many communities have worked together to flatten the curve, businesses are now in the position to start planning on returning back to work. While there are a lot of factors to take into account when returning to work, here are a few tips that need to be at the top of your list.

1. Review local authority regulations

First things first. You need to follow the guidelines from your local authorities. Protocols change country to country, state to state, and even county to county. On top of that, each industry will have a different timeline.

There are many sources you can use, but here are a few that should be a good resource.


United Kingdom

United States

2. Enhance communication

If part of your team has been working remotely, or if you’ve had to furlough some of your staff, you know communication is critical to keeping everyone aligned.

As you and your team rebuild your business, some policies or procedures might have changed since the last time everyone was together.

  • Use video for more personal communication. Record and share videos to welcome staff back to work. Or, you can convey more detailed instructions such as how to follow COVID-19 guidelines, a new policy for swapping shifts, or procedures for calling in sick.

  • Ask the right questions at the start of a shift. Previously, you might have allowed staff to show up with a slight cough or upset stomach. Maybe you didn’t even know they were under the weather. Use custom questions at clock in to easily identify any staff who are ill — and give them instructions on whether or not they should work their shift.

  • Require read receipts. If you use a workforce management tool with a built-in communication feature, enable read receipts to ensure everyone knows the latest company updates.

3. Set new hygiene standards

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets expelled by an individual (like sneezing or coughing). The best way to prevent the spread is through increased hygiene practices, including handwashing.

While you already had hygiene measures in place, you can increase your protocols to strengthen the safety of your team. Here are a few ways businesses should adapt to increased hygiene workforces.

  • Minimize contact at clock in. If you have a manual clock-in system, now is the type to upgrade. Instead, use a hands-free hygienic clock in. Using voice command and facial recognition technology, the system can accurately start or end a shift without the employee needing to touch anything.

  • Create a dedicated leave type. You might already have different leave types set up in your system — sick, holiday, personal time. As you re-open your business, create special leave types for more clarification. For example, you can create a leave type for someone who is in self-isolation or who is recovering from an illness. These leave types will help you only schedule employees who are healthy and available to work.

  • Find appropriate replacements without the hassle. Sometimes when you’re trying to find a replacement, you’re desperate. You offer the open shift to anyone who is willing to take it. As part of your new procedure, make sure you offer available shifts only to employees who are suitable to work.

4. Use real-time data to adjust your schedule

Over the past several weeks, you’ve likely been watching your bottom line with a close eye. As you re-open your business, data is going to be critical to getting up and running quickly and effectively.

That also means making sure you have the right staff scheduled. As the world has changed, so have your staffing needs. Make sure you’re making informed decisions to protect the longevity of your business.

  • Integrate your systems. When you re-open your business, it might take time for your sales to regulate. Integrate your POS for live insights into business performance so you can make informed decisions as your business gets back to normal.

  • Keep the right staff on hand. In line with sales, your staffing needs might fluctuate throughout the day. Track labor cost by the hour to manage staffing levels in real-time so you’re never short-staffed (or over-staffed).

  • Use employee stress profiles to identify over time. Receive an alert if staff are at risk of being overloaded and help your teams get the best possible spread of hours

5. Create a culture of flexibility

Previously, your staff may have had one task — ring up sales at checkout, restock the backroom, or bus tables. But now you might need your team to take on additional responsibilities.

That means you need to create a culture of flexibility.

  • Create flexible pay rates. When you and your team get back to work, your chef might need to also work as a delivery person. And when that happens, you need to ensure that the employee gets paid correctly. Use a workforce management system that allows you to set your employees’ default rate of pay based on the role that they usually perform, while also setting alternative rates of pay and pay conditions that can be triggered based on where they are scheduled to work.

  • Onboard quickly. Whether you’re bringing back veteran staff or hiring new employees, you need to make sure they get up to speed quickly. Empower your team with tools that are easy to use, and helps manage their shifts, availability, time off, and communication in one place.

  • Streamline your scheduling. While businesses are reopening, many schools are staying closed. That means that your schedule needs to accommodate new availabilities and simplify the scheduling process. Use templates and auto schedulers to generate the smartest schedule for your business with just one click. And easily make changes when needed.

The future is bright when working together

As governments around the world make plans to release restrictions, businesses are also making plans on how to safely return to a more normal work life.

Although it can be daunting, the best way to succeed is by not doing it alone. Try a free trial of Deputy to learn how businesses have navigated the global pandemic — and are coming out on the other side.