We are seeing this already with the states that spiked infection rates and now businesses face tough choices about when to close, how to handle if partially open and whether to furlough or lay off employees who can't telecommute.
The issues will likely be to assess where the reinfections are occuring. Many are in social settings and not in workplaces. Therefore, some businesses will not want to close as a result. Exercising the careful practices of social distancing, face coverings, screenings etc will continue to be important it seems.
So the government directives are one thing but what will likely be considered one would hope is the infection rates in workplaces related to other areas. The impact on hospitals and what industries or businesses are having the infection spikes.
Employers should continously monitor and enforce the safe workplace practices. The heightened precautions where increased in infection rates occur even more so naturally.
As with other practices, no matter what, you must be objective and use the criteria clearly outlined in order to make your decisions to avoid unnecessary/unintentional perceived bias in your decisions.
Document all of what is guiding your decisions because as with so much else, there are always potential liability issues.
Employees claiming they got the infection at work due to "unsafe" conditions. Compliance and enforcement of safe workplace precautions will be critical to prove you did all you could.
Keep employees working remote as much as possible, especially those asking for this as an accomodation to their fear of getting COVID due to their potential exposure at work, assuming their work can be adquately handled remotely.
Seek to "listen" to the issues employees bring up. It is imperative we do all we can to keep people comfortable at work. More often than not, this will be easy enough, but those that struggle, we are charged to find ways to make them more at ease, if at all possible.
What about making the decisions to lay off or furlough employees? The employer will have to assess the likely duration of the pause. Others will have to make hard choices and simply lay off employees as their financial situation will dictate that. Furloughs make it easier to get staff back, so if one is wondering at all about the level of staffing moving forward, furlough has more flexiblity as it relates to replacement costs.
At this time, every employer should be setting up short term, yet strategic approaches to the "what ifs". This will be time well spent and such a thoughtful process is great for identifying your key areas of business lines and what you find is going to make you most "relevant" moving forward. Sometimes we do more than we needed to all along and this allows us the time to thoughtfully assess our business model.
Many of us have strategic plans, most long range by nature. We are now in a climate of needed strategic "short term" plans. Being innovative is the name of the game. Working smarter not harder a reality. Consideration of technology and the value that brings is imperative. Infesting in good technology, again, no doubt money well spent and planned for. Working from home has so many potential positive outcomes including saving money on office space as one. Managing a workforce telecommuting is not as difficult as many once felt. Happy to guide this if you feel it is a struggle for you.
Whether you are a small business or large organization this is all relevant information and you need to take the time to consider the "why" you exist and "what" makes you the most money. Getting back to basics, is a healthy reality for this climate of uncertainty.
Be open, be flexible, be creative! That will be vital moving forward in this climate of unrest and uncertainty.