Keeping your business safe and protected during a pandemic means much more than just washing your hands and wearing a face mask. It also means preparing your business for a crisis, keeping your management and employees well-informed, and having consistent, practical and effective protocols in place.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, businesses and organizations are taking precautionary measures and putting safeguards in place to protect their companies and employees.
To protect your organization and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to be willing to take precautionary measures and communicate them effectively across your organization. Here are 10 tips to keep your business or organization safe during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Create a Plan for Emergency Preparedness and Response
Having an emergency preparedness and response plan for your management and employees in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak at your business is an absolute must-have first step.
Letting employees know which steps you’re taking to protect them, what to do if an outbreak occurs in the workplace, how employees can contact management and each other in case of emergency and what will happen to the day-to-day operations if someone in your place of work is infected will help reduce fear and eliminate uncertainty for ‘what if’ scenarios.
Creating a proper plan not only informs employees of what to do in the face of an emergency, but it also reassures them that the proper precautions are being taken before a crisis arises.
2. Restructure Your Cleaning Procedures
Ensuring that your business has the proper set of cleaning procedures in place is very important.
Normally, floors being mopped and bathrooms being cleaned at the end of each workday would cut it. Now, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many more cleaning procedures that need to be taken to make sure that your business is safe for employees.
Providing employees with disinfectant wipes to disinfect their desks daily, ramping up how often your business is cleaned and performing routine workplace cleaning will give employees peace of mind knowing that their work environment is safe. You can also have a cleaning chart visible in certain areas, including kitchens and bathrooms, that show users that the area was cleaned at specific times daily.
3. Make Face Coverings Accessible for All Employees, Customers and Guests
Wearing face masks can help prevent an unknowingly infected person from spreading bacteria and viruses to other people, especially when you can’t maintain a six-foot (or two-meter) distance from others.
Providing convenient and widespread access to face masks is so important to make sure that face masks are accessible for all employees and customers in your business. Face masks that can be dispensed or taken at a distance and those that are individually wrapped are more hygienic than those that don’t have those features and attributes. Placing these in key locations, such as entrances, offices and kitchen areas to name a few will reassure employees that they can stay protected while walking around the workplace.
4. Maintain Proper Hygiene
Nobody likes a co-worker who doesn’t prioritize their personal hygiene in the workplace. It might be very obvious, but ensuring that your employees are washing their hands often and reminding them to not touch their faces is one of the most critical tips. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a perfect time to discuss hygiene issues that you would have previously felt uncomfortable discussing with certain people in your organization.
Stocking up the workplace with antibacterial hand soap, hand sanitizing stations and disinfectants will give your employees the proper tools they need to maintain and elevate their personal hygiene.
Strongly suggest to your team that they cough and sneeze in the fold of their arms and encourage them to sanitize their hands immediately after doing so.
5. Establish a Work from Home Policy
Many of your employees might be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 or may have family and friends at home whom they do not want to infect or put in jeopardy.
Although many jobs across different sectors require face-to-face interactions between employees, customers and other businesses, establishing specific work-from-home policies, such as reduced working hours and days in the office, is a great way to ensure that your employees can stay protected and have the confidence they need to do their jobs safely.
It’s important to remember that you do not need a one-size-fits-all approach for each team in your organization. Different teams have different needs and recognizing that will go a long way to ensuring productivity and trust among your team. Communicating to your whole organization that teams may be impacted by different policies because of the nature of their work is important because it allows for open and honest dialogue and may put employees’ concerns at ease.
6. Set Up Proper Working Spaces
Ensuring that the proper distancing protocols are in place in your business is essential to make employees feel like their working environment is safe. Increasing the distance between employees’ workstations and desks, reducing the number of employees per room and taking additional measures, such as building barriers between desks, are great ways to reduce the spread of infection in the workplace.
7. Actively Encourage Sick Employees to Stay Home
Letting your employees know that it is okay to stay at home if they do not feel well is so important to ensure a healthy and safe workplace. Many employees feel that it is necessary to go to work even if they are sick because they worry that their job may be in jeopardy if they are absent. During these challenging times, it is imperative to be flexible with your employees and communicate honestly with them to set proper expectations. Every business owner and operator needs employees to feel safe and secure and communication here goes a long way.
A great way to mitigate the risk of a potential outbreak at your business is to tell your employees that they should not have fever or symptoms for a 48-hour period without using cold-reducing medications before coming back to work. Encouraging employees to get tested for COVID-19 is important as well and other employees will want to know that everyone in their place of work is healthy.
8. Offer Your Services Online
If your organization offers services that can be moved online, make them online. Conducting business online is a great solution to reducing the amount of contact that your employees have with customers and other businesses, making them feel safer and more protected from the coronavirus pandemic.
9. Cancel or Postpone Work-Related Travel
During these challenging times where these is an increased risk to get the coronavirus by travelling via airplanes to other cities and countries, it is important to rethink all non-essential travel for your business.
For essential workers who are required to travel for work, ensuring that they quarantine at home for two weeks is essential before allowing them to return back to the workplace.
10. Keep Your Employees Posted
Providing your employees with updates on news about the COVID-19 pandemic, holding virtual meetings and sending daily or weekly memos on precautions to take to stay safe and healthy are great ways keep everyone in your business in the loop. Because circumstances and updates change regularly, consistent briefings and updates is very helpful for teams.
One of the most important things to do for your employees during these challenging times is to let them know that they are being heard. Having conversations with them about their concerns, getting feedback on company policies and protocols regarding the coronavirus will open the dialogue between you and your employees, making them see that their opinions matter. This will ultimately lead to their morale being boosted and feeling more confident to do their jobs safely.
These are challenging and unusual times with businesses and organizations taking unprecedented actions to keep their employees and companies safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking the necessary steps to reassure employees that we will get through it and that you're doing the best you can to maintain their health and safety as well as that of your company or organization will go a long way to preserving the organization.