Do I take my shoes off at the front door? Do I wear a mask? Do I greet visitors with a fist bump? What are good behavior norms now? What are the relationship guidelines?
Reboarding is not “unpausing” the TV because you shut it off during coronavirus. It’s not the same anymore; the TV show is new.
Reboarding is about your employees learning new cultural norms, a set of rules and guidelines about how to interact with people, equipment and space to be successful.
Here’s an example of a new norm as described by one of my HR colleagues: “I interviewed with a local company a couple days ago and it was very strange. Upon arrival for my appointment, I found the entrance locked. An employee opened the door maintaining the social distancing protocol, and then I was asked certain questions concerning exposure to COVID-19 and required to sign a form to that effect with a sanitized pen for me to use. I completed an app and watched a video prior to the actual interview. It was so different from what we are accustomed to, but, given the current circumstances, it’s very understandable. The company is conducting business in a manner to best protect their employees and visitors from possible exposure.”
Take time right now to evaluate your current cultural norms to decide new ones upon reboarding. Turn your reboarding into a positive campaign, celebrating your employees’ return to work.
Your campaign may include new hygiene etiquette about coughing, sneezing and handwashing, and designating offices, meeting and training rooms as handshake-free zones with disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and tissues as standard office supplies.
The goal of this reboarding campaign is to make employees comfortable as they navigate through the uncharted waters of changing social distancing into safe physical distancing.
The term “social distancing” has been widely used to describe part of the community mitigation strategy, but we cannot socially distance ourselves long-term and repeatedly just because a new strain of a virus pops up. What we can do is “physically distance” ourselves from others while remaining “socially” active. This will allow us the benefits of meeting and collaborating in person without the dangers of exposing ourselves and others.
The new cultural norms will allow us to carefully go on with our work and lives. Our ability to figure this out will have a huge impact on us individually and economically as a nation.
As this coronavirus hits its peak and then flattens, businesses will need to be ready to get people back to work ASAP. Human resources professionals need reboarding strategies in place. Here are 10 suggestions for a safe and successful reboard:
- Make sure everyone understands that when they reboard, they are to disinfect.
- Host a reboarding kick-off or fast-start meeting to explain the new cultural norms, such as meeting format changes, that will be in place going forward.
- Rewrite HR policies to describe what your employees will do differently on the job.
- Schedule a HR workshop for debriefing, giving your employees a voice about the pandemic and to open communications between them.
- Put in place a buddy system whereby a group of two mentor each other into new norms, encouraging each other.
- Schedule peer interaction and group learning activities for reconnecting.
- Recommunicate your business goals for clarity.
- Embrace change management by your leaders. Teach them how to manage change.
- Provide training to accomplish goals.
- Drive high performance and reward the winners.
Even with a well-thought-out plan of strategies, there will be rough seas ahead as we navigate through this storm together. The strategies can be altered and updated to address future issues as they arise. It is important to take this positive step forward by putting in place new cultural norms so when the social distancing mandates are lifted, your company can move ahead at “full throttle.”