By Debbie Bolla
“The crisis has taught us to focus on what matters the most,” Mai Lan Nguyen, senior vice president of HR for North America at Schneider Electric, recently told me during a discussion for our CHRO Q&A podcast series. For Nguyen and many others, what matters most to an organization is its people. With that in mind, Nguyen and her HR team created a plan to move Schneider Electric’s 15,000 North American employees to a safe work-from-home environment due to the coronavirus. When we spoke at the end of May, plans were already in place to reopen the workplace to a select group of individuals who are eligible to return.
“Many passionate people have been putting their brains into designing what would be our return to office,” says Nguyen. “We are adopting best approaches on how to bring employees back to the office in a matter that is really focused first and foremost on their health and safety. And it’s not just about returning to the office, but really making sure we imagine what’s the new future of the workplace, and how we are going to put both short-term measures to manage that, but also how we understand how we work in the new normal.”
Nguyen shared some of the best practices that Schneider Electric plans to put into place, including:
- capacity of staff will be reduced to 25 percent to ensure proper social distancing;
- enhanced cleaning procedures of facilities;
- welcome kits for employees with face masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning wipes;
- required completion of an e-learning program of new procedures;
- a managed flow of one-way traffic; and
- closure of spaces like conference rooms, breakrooms, and wellness centers that can’t provide social distancing.
The next few weeks and months will be a critical time for HR and leadership teams. For additional advice and strategies, see our special section Reopening the Workplace. You can also hear more advice from Nguyen in our podcast library.