The coronavirus has changed the way you and your employees work. COVID-19 has been hard on businesses, but there are creative steps you can take to keep your workers safe. As restrictions loosen and then tighten back up, it’s important to follow the trends and plan accordingly. That way, you’ll be prepared for any circumstance. Here’s what you can do.
Communicate and Educate
One of the most important things to maintain throughout the entire pandemic is communication. Your employees must know what’s going on in terms of remote and in-person work. Things can change on a dime with COVID-19, so it’s essential to stay in touch.
Also, discuss the best protocols to take for safety. Educate and provide resources for your employees about social distancing, the best masks and how to wear them, protocols for quarantining and sanitation practices.
As employees start to come back to work, they should know how to handle the new normal way of living. Proper sanitary and communication practices can make the workplace safer than ever.
Track COVID Changes
Part of the difficulty in dealing with the coronavirus is its ability to flare up in days. For example, in the United States, reopenings have led to spikes and upward trends of the virus. Though it may be tempting to track how the country is doing as a whole, it’s best to focus on more local numbers.
For instance, your state and county statistics will be much more helpful in guiding how efficiently your employees can return to work. If the numbers start to increase, you may want to consider halting your plans to transition back to the office.
Develop Protocols and Protections
To properly keep your employees safe in the journey back to the workplace, you’ll need to develop some protocols first. How will you go about handling an outbreak? What if the virus enters the workplace? What if an employee believes they have come in contact with a COVID carrier?
Think through each scenario and then develop a plan. Put these documents in a central, digital location for people to have easy access to. Then, send out emails and updates on the situation — maintain communication about what people should do in each case. Protecting employees should be a priority you handle smoothly.
Enact Quarantines and Isolations
Should someone in the workplace contract the coronavirus, you’ll need to decide what to do. Likely, even if an employee isn’t sure they came in contact with a positive carrier, they should still quarantine or isolate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a 14-day quarantine since that’s how long it can take for symptoms to develop.
During this time, they should try to avoid coming into contact with other people. Limiting trips to essential services, too, will reduce exposure risks during isolation. They can still work from home if they feel well during this time. If not, paid time off suffices as well.
The workplace should be a sanitary place where employees can work freely. To achieve this status, you must implement the best cleaning and safety practices. Encourage employees to wash their hands for the appropriate length of time frequently throughout the day. Have them stay home when sick. Limit contact by using technology for conferencing, even when just a room away.
Maintaining a sanitized environment that ensures employee safety will make for optimal performance. A good practice to uphold is taking employees’ temperatures as they come and go from the workplace. A fever is an early sign of COVID, so this is a proactive measure.
Traveling creates a prime opportunity for spreading the virus. One of the best ways to curb these odds is to cut back on it. If your business can transition to virtual conferences and meetings, then you should do it. Collaboration tools like Google Docs are popular, easy-to-use and accessible from any location
Remember, if your area is doing well with its handling of COVID-19, it doesn’t mean the place you’re traveling to is on the same decline. Going into a red zone increases your chances of contracting the virus. Stay within your region, if possible.
Continue Remote Work
Many industries are seeing the benefits of remote work — reduced travel time, using email instead of face-to-face meetings and higher engagement. If possible, keep that dynamic going. It can be partially or fully, but staying home is the best way to reduce the chances of contracting COVID-19. You can have employees work a few days at the office to keep a nice balance. Make sure every has a good internet connect and a webcam that has at least 1080p resolution to have professional-looking meetings from anywhere.
Have a plan ready, too. If your state is allowing businesses to return, be prepared in case your governor rolls back on reopenings. You’ll want to keep your tech in place — communication, file storage and sharing, time management systems — so it’s ready if you need to suddenly switch back entirely to remote work.
Adjust Company Policies
Since this time is unprecedented, employers need to protect employees’ jobs. Getting by is a top priority for many families living through this pandemic — they want to know their company understands their needs. For instance, benefits, pay, sick leave and paid time off policies should fit the circumstances.
With the fluctuation in safety measures and reopenings, it’s important to revise company policies. Flexibility and protection should take priority. People can work in creative ways, but you’ll still need to provide them with benefits.
Offer Creative Services
It’s hard to provide employees with wages and benefits if the company is taking a hit from the pandemic. To properly adjust and to keep employees safe at work, find some creative business solutions to stand out.
Whether it’s curbside pickup, indoor social distancing or delivery, you can limit your contact with customers and clients to stay safe while still selling products. Use video chat to work with people if you can. Focusing on shipping or mailing products is a possibility, too, for those who don’t feel safe going out yet.
Keep employee safety in mind as you think outside the box. Staying afloat is tricky, but creative solutions help.
A Post-COVID World
As you enact these practices, you may question how they will help in the long run. After the coronavirus is no longer a threat, people are still going to be cautious in public. Safety precautions will be the new norm, remote work will increase and people will think of new, creative ways to do business. If you start these steps now, you create a solid foundation for your company’s future.