This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% the author’s.

First and foremost, we want to take a moment to recognize and express our gratitude toward the brave first responders—EMTs, firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, and so many others—who have gone (and are still going) into action during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting their own health at risk to help those infected by the virus.

And to the essential workers in the food, energy, transportation, safety, and manufacturing industries (just to name a few) that have kept us fed, our lights on, and our world moving—thank you all.

Now that we appear to be heading toward the final stages of the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s important for business owners and managers to take up the responsibility of getting society back on track, by beginning to resume “normal” workplace operations, slowly and safely—as much as possible.

In these uncertain times, however, you must be more than a boss who lays down rules—you should provide guidance to your employees that takes their needs and fears into consideration. What follows are a few suggestions to help you transition from “boss” to “leader” as you head back to the office, factory, or brick-and-mortar shop.

  1. Communicate with your employees about business changes.

Your business will probably undergo certain alterations after lockdown ends. It may be that a long-time vendor will no longer be available, or you have to cut back on certain services offered by your company. Whatever you do, don’t treat your employees like children who don’t need to know what the grown-ups are doing. They deserve to be informed about changes to everyday operations and your vision for the future direction of the organization, so keep them in the loop, include them in discussions, and always create time and space for your team’s feedback. Leaders always listen.

  1. Accommodate alternative workplace arrangements.

Even if your region no longer has any lockdown orders in effect, not everyone will feel comfortable returning to the office just yet. This is especially true of those employees who have health conditions that may put them at higher risk for more severe symptoms should they contract coronavirus. If an employee wishes to continue telecommuting for a while longer, try to accommodate them as best you can. Now is the time to listen to your team, take their concerns seriously, and do what you can do to make them feel safe and comfortable. Will some abuse this practice? Sure, there’s chance, but start with the benefit of the doubt during this “new normal” and go from there.

Employees who do come into the office may, understandably, not feel comfortable sitting too close to others. In that case, allow (even encourage) them to rearrange workstations or relocate to other areas on the premises so they can enforce social distancing protocols.

  1. Maintain the proper supplies.

You need to ensure your employees have easy access to everything they need to avoid spreading or becoming infected with COVID-19. That includes cleaning supplies (many common disinfectants can eliminate COVID-19) and hand sanitizer (with 60% or higher alcohol content). You should also have plenty of disposable gloves and facemasks on-hand, and you can even learn how to help prevent cross-contamination by using different color towels.

If you mandate the use of employee uniforms, it’s a good idea to have spare uniforms onsite so employees can immediately change out of clothing that may have become infected. Furthermore, using a professional laundry service can ensure that this apparel is properly sanitized on a routine basis.

The unprecedented social conditions that have developed due to the COVID-19 crisis means that it’s more vital than ever to be a true leader—a person who understands their employees and uses that information to guide them properly.