I have been observing and listening to people and reading messages about the lifting of the lockdown. It appears that people imagine the 5th of May 2020 to be business as usual. I realized that some people might be expecting things to be ‘normal’ again and that they will go back to work because working from home was boring. I am sensing an expectation of same office, same colleagues, same boardroom, same routine. Some employees might be surprised by either returning or not returning to work and will remember 5 May 2020 for some time.
I agree with those who are of the view that returning employees after lockdowns have been lifted won't be as simple as announcing a return to work after a Christmas holiday.
Some, if not many of the workplace environments might need immediate changes and some changes might require phasing in on a medium to long term basis.
Also, since the declaration of the Coronavirus as a pandemic by the WHO there has been a huge drive to develop a vaccine because lockdowns are not sustainable economically, socially and in many other ways. From the reports available and expert advise, the development of a vaccine or treatment will take up to 18 to 24 months or longer. I emphasize longer!
Lockdowns will be lifted, but the impact of the pandemic will be with us perhaps until we have a vaccine or treatment has been developed and is available. It is therefore important that we prepare ourselves and our workplaces to be 'fit' to deal with the impact of Coronavirus.
We are operating in different industries and that makes the impact of the pandemic unique and requires us to develop different return to work strategies. We are told that the coronavirus is new (novel) and not much is known, we are learning as we go and it is important that HR takes the lead in devising and communicating measures that will prepare and protect employees.
I concur with the view that our communication as HR should be transparent, honest and with empathy even when we do not have all the answers and solutions. What do we tell the employees about returning to work after Lockdown?