Returning to work while coronavirus is still a threat is understandably stressful. While some companies like Twitter have decided to make remote work permanent, plenty of companies are expecting everyone to return. Your office might be reopening or open already.
But is it safe to return to work? Ideally, your workplace will spell out in writing the plan that will address all the policies and procedures and let you know ahead of time.
While the CDC did layout some guidelines, the state and local rules are sometimes different and that’s what’s actually enforceable. If an employer doesn’t follow state guidelines, employees can report them for noncompliance. Companies can be fined or even shut down. Your local Department of Labor website should have the information, or links might be available on your governor’s homepage.
Experts recommend asking some specific questions to either your direct supervisor, human resources contact, or union representative.
Here are the questions you need definite answers to:
Companies need to be aware of the global pandemic’s current impact and it’s path to help their decision making. Criteria must be based on: frequency of virus transmission, if transmissions and deaths are increasing or decreasing, and for how long. Your company needs to pay attention to the most accurate and updated information the local health department can provide. Decisions need to be based on that information.
According to the CDC, wearing masks can greatly reduce transmission of the virus, particularly in areas where social distancing isn’t an option. So you will want to be aware ahead of time before returning.
Returning to work doesn’t need to be more stressful. No one wants to work in a dangerous environment. Every company needs to have a clear set of steps that need to be taken in case someone gets infected. No one wants any confusion on what to do if your work gets an outbreak. Checking temperatures of everyone entering the building is a fast and efficient way to check everyone’s health. Some companies are doing multiple temperature checks. Ask your employer if they plan on taking similar steps. Of course this can’t be for specific employees, but will have to be done across the board.
Remember that you’re not returning to work for one day; you’re returning to work every day. Be sure to ask about an ongoing cleaning and sanitizing plan for high touch areas. This includes restrooms, door handles, and all of the areas that people tend to touch should be cleaned regularly. CDC recommended guidelines have what to clean and with what chemicals. You can also check the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for more information. Before returning to work, everyone should know where to find cleaning products for employees to clean their own work surfaces.
Studies have shown that before coronavirus, 9 out of 10 Americans didn’t stay home when sick. Main reasons were they were either worrying about too much work or they weren’t able to afford a day off.
With coworkers taking care of family that may have been sick or exposed, sick days are more important than ever. Now is the best time to check on vacation policies and sick days. Is there a plan in place for people who are at increased risk? Make sure the existing policies work for this new situation. Remember that it only takes one case of coronavirus to spread.
The ideal situation would be if anyone exposed was able to stay under mandatory 14 day quarantine. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employees of certain public agencies or private companies with less than 500 people have access to emergency paid leave. This is in place until the end of 2020. While not all employers fall under this law, there should be options.
Moving desks further apart or installing barriers between seats can help install proper distancing between employees. Another thing to consider is air flow, so that air conditioners aren’t pushing respiratory droplets from one person to another. People may have to move away from sitting directly below air conditioning vents. Fresh air isn’t always possible, but would be preferred. That would reduce people coming into contact with each other at entryways.
If there’s an important public announcement while you’re at work, how will you be informed? Some companies will use email while others might find a loudspeaker more beneficial. If there is an emergency at your workplace, you need to know how you will find out and what to do next.
Workplace safety has now taken on a whole new meaning. Be sure to check out our other links on working during this time:
Before coronavirus, no one questioned whether they needed to wear pants for an interview. Now all of life has changed as we stay indoors, some with humiliating videos shown online afterwards (yes, you need to wear pants). So how do you look professional on a video job interview? What’s the best technique to convey eye contact? What lighting is best? We have the answers to all these questions. Here are the very best video interview tips that will make a world of difference and get you that job:
We cannot stress this enough: sit in front of a window. The light needs to be in front of you, and behind the computer or phone you’re using. If the light is behind you, then no one can see your face and it will look washed out. If you’re not able to use a window or the weather isn’t bright, a table lamp will be nearly as good. It won’t have the diffused light that a window gives, but it will do. Avoid any overhead light, as that is the least flattering light.
See if anything in your shot might create a glare. The worst offenders are glasses, jewelry, and watches. The easiest way to check ahead of time is at around the same time that your interview will take place. Removing glasses isn’t always an option, so it may require playing with the angle of the light or angling the computer a different way.
You’ve probably already suspected this, but having loads of laundry behind you isn’t the most professional background. If you don’t have room for an office in your household, try to make sure that you’re still presenting a business background. A blank wall is still better than a messy room.
While putting the computer or tablet on a table is high enough for you to type, it’s not anywhere near high enough for eye contact. No one wants to see up your nose, so be sure to grab some thick books or a box on top of a table and then add the laptop. Try to get the camera as close to eye level with you as possible.
One of the excellent perks about a video job interview is that you can keep notes behind your tablet or laptop that the interviewer can’t see. Hanging them up so you can read them while in the interview would be useful for referencing the questions you’re going to ask them. You absolutely should also ask questions, but some people seem to get tongue-tied or their minds “go blank” when in the actual interview, making notes an easy way to avoid that. One of the best questions we recommend asking is “What skills or experience do you think is most important for this position?” because then you can spend the rest of your time showing that you are that person.
When you get dressed for the interview, you want to be just as formal as though it was in-person. We also suggest seeing how your outfit looks on camera. If you wear all black and have a dark background, there’s a risk of looking like a floating head. Be sure to wear something that’s a different color than your background. Also be sure that enough of your shirt shows up in the frame, as anything that might have a lower collar or deep v cut can come across as inappropriate.
While telling anyone in your household that you’ll be in an interview sounds obvious, it’s still crucial. Don’t forget to turn off your phone! Mute any popups and email alerts. If you have something or someone that has a high possibility of interrupting you, mentioning it at the beginning can help steady your nerves and help the interviewer understand your situation. If anything does interrupt you, just get through it as best you can. This is about being as professional as possible under the circumstances.
Being at home makes being relaxed natural. Unfortunately, relaxed posture can come across as a lack of interest. To look engaged in the interview, be sure to sit up straight with your feet on the floor and try not to fidget. This will convey interest and enthusiasm without having to say a word.
One of the problems with streaming video interviews is that occasionally it can skip, causing the image you’re seeing and the audio to fall out of sync. Be sure to speak clearly and slowly so that the other person hears everything you’re saying. Enthusiasm is always key in any interview, but talking too quickly may lead to miscommunication.
A key tactic to interviews is eye contact, but using video interviews throws that off. If you look at the person you’re talking to, the camera doesn’t catch your eye contact. If you look into the camera the whole time, you don’t get to read the body language when they’re talking. When you are talking, look at the camera. When they’re talking, watch them. Most recruiters find it’s easier to pretend that it’s a phone interview.
Since the interviewer won’t be able to see all of you all the time, you’ll need to explain any long pauses in your answers or responses. If you’re writing notes or just coming up with your answer, be sure to let them know. This will reassure them that no technical glitches have happened.
One of the best things you can possibly do to prepare is to make sure you are comfortable using Zoom or Skype before the actual interview. Much like interview questions, it’s always best to practice ahead of time. Handle a video chat job interview like you would an in-person by making sure you can be there!
Keep in mind that the main goal is still the same: to show that you’re the right person for the job. Preparation is key for a video job interview just like an in-person interview. Make the connection and show you’re the one they need!
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