Employees Management Trends

Using Alternative Scheduling to Reopen Your Office More Safely

The ability to reopen your company does not immediately translate into resuming workplace life as it existed before the COVID-19 pandemic. With people’s health remaining the primary concern, organizations need to find ways to bring staff back on-site as safely as possible. Alternative scheduling can be a good option for some employers.

What is alternative scheduling?

Prior to the crisis, many companies operated on a standard schedule of employees working 9 to 5 (or something quite similar) from Monday through Friday. An alternative schedule deviates from this set-up by changing the hours and/or days people come in.

  • This expanded way of utilizing your workforce creates a wealth of potential scenarios. A few arrangement possibilities include:
  • Staggering employee start and end times by opening earlier and closing later (working in shifts)
  • Assigning individuals specific days of the week to come in and specific ones on which to stay home(combining with remote work, if possible)
  • Staying open on weekends.

How alternative scheduling contributes to a safer workplace

  • Fewer people in a building at any given time promotes social distancing. Employers can arrange desks and other furniture in ways that allow greater space between them.
  • Emptier hallways, bathrooms, kitchens, and other common areas mean fewer encounters with fellow employees.
  • Added “roominess” likewise contributes to the psychological well-being of returning employees who have dutifully limited contact with others over the past few months and are anxious over leaving the safety of home.
  • Alternate scheduling also can help with a company’s precautionary efforts. Dividing workers into shifts allows time for thorough office cleaning before the next group of employees arrives.
  • If measures such as taking temperatures and distributing masks are part of the new daily routine, keeping a handle on the number of people entering the building at a given time eases the burden on those performing those tasks and promotes more orderly conduct.
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Other potential benefits of alternative scheduling

  • With public transportation in many regions not operating at full power, riders may be forced into catching busses or trains at only certain times. A work schedule that shifts a person’s hours may be able to accommodate these leaner running times and prevent hassles such as needlessly waiting around an office or station.
  • Alternative scheduling also can prove advantageous for parents who are still dealing with school closure and other childcare issues. Providing a mixture of on-site days and remote work, or perhaps allowing employees to come in on the weekend when a spouse is available to handle home concerns, can lighten the load.

Considerations when implementing alternative scheduling

Factors such as the size of your facility, the number of people on staff, who really needs to be on site, and the nature of your business will influence how your organization goes about creating alternative schedules – if at all.

Places operating relatively well remotely may not see the need to get creative on figuring out how to bring more people back to the physical workplace. Sometimes, solutions prove relatively straightforward.

Alternative scheduling is not a panacea. Companies likely will need to experiment and make adjustments as they see fit as well as respond to changes in the world around them. But while life may not feel normal for quite some time, progress offers hope and puts organizations on the right track toward success.

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