Optimism is rising as new vaccines come online to tackle COVID-19 but now employers are faced with the challenge of ensuring a safe, legal, and successful transition to life beyond the lockdown.

That means putting in place the workplace safety and compliance environments to ensure their business is not the one responsible for the next COVID-19 breakout.

“The reality is that for all the incredible gains Australians have made in the past few weeks against this disease, the real battle is about to begin, and the stakes are being raised,” says Grant Custance, CEO, and founder, nimbus, an Australian workforce management software company.

Custance says that between now and mid-December, at least two million workers will head back to their offices and other places of work.

“Many will still be working from home for some of the time. Those workplaces include airlines, airports, and crowded office towers. The question is, have employers put in place comprehensive plans to make sure they get the transition back to work right.”

Custance says not enough workplaces are ready and that they haven’t aligned their back to work enthusiasm with the necessary protection against a potential outbreak or a functional communications system to cope with it. “They are risking their workforces’ health, their brand reputation, and potential workplace compliance legal cases.”

He asks, “For example, what happens if an organisation does have a case of COVID-19? How do they make sure they limit the impact and get the message to their hundreds of staff to act? How do they keep records of this activity? How do they provide that in a neat, timely manner to health authorities? QR codes have been an intriguing and surprisingly useful start to this kind of information gathering, but there is an urgent need for a more sophisticated, comprehensive approach.”

Grant Custance, CEO, and founder, nimbus

He acknowledged that the introduction of COVID-19 workplace supervisors, for example, is a good initiative, but at the end of the day, workplaces must have comprehensive, foolproof solutions.

“When we talk to businesses, who aren’t using nimbus, we find that many of them aren’t ready. We specifically developed end to end solutions such as nimbus Hub and the nimbus COVIDSafe protocols in our applications to ensure organisations are able to communicate quickly and easily with staff.”

These innovations, he says, are designed to significantly reduce the time and effort required by employers to manage their staff as employees return to work during COVID-19.

“They also ensure that organisations can now easily and efficiently avoid losing track of which devices are on the network and how they are being used. These precautions are going to be vital as we move out of the worst of the COVID-19 crisis.

According to Custance, “We also need to remember that while it’s great that many people will be returning to their physical place of work, many will remain working from home for months to come, regardless of a vaccine. Organisations need to ensure that they put in place workforce management systems that don’t lead to staff breaking workplace compliance agreements.

These are complex issues, and they are about to hit us at scale, he cautions. “Now is the time for organisations to make sure they are putting in place the comprehensive workforce management systems required to ensure we turn enthusiasm into sustained confidence.”

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