Are companies equipped to return to the workplace?

The World Health Organisation urged businesses to develop action plans before allowing employees back to the workplace.
By: | May 19, 2020

With lockdown measures beginning to be eased around the world, some businesses are considering allowing a partial or full return to the workplace for their employees.

However, companies should only do so if they can safely do so, suggested the World Health Organisation (WHO). During a recent media briefing, the WHO urged business leaders to carry out risk assessments to understand workers’ potential exposure to the virus and plan re-openings accordingly.

Additionally, the WHO recommended workplaces develop action plans that complement their existing business continuity plans. These action plans should include guidance for re-opening, closing and modifying work settings, while also outlining measures to help prevent or mitigate COVID-19’s spread.

Such plans, added the WHO, should be created in consultation with workers and their representatives, and steps should be taken to ensure that all measures are widely and clearly communicated.

Perhaps companies also need to pay attention to the mental health of its employees, as COVID-19 continues to highlight the need to urgently increase investment in services for mental health. Failure to do so, said the United Nations (UN), will risk a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months.

Commenting on the UN’s statement, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said, “The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health is already extremely concerning. Social isolation, fear of contagion and loss of family members is compounded by the distress caused by loss of income and often employment.”