With the Coronavirus escalated to a pandemic, many organizations and their employees are anxious that they may be at risk due to the fast spread of the disease. Employers’ first obligation should be to make sure their employees are safe. In order to work around the growing virus, employers can take the following precautions to keep their employees safe:
Limit travel and exposure to others. The CDC has advised that we practice social isolation – where people should have little to no interaction with others in order to contain the virus and stop the spread of it. Furthermore, it is recommended to maintain a six feet span of space between individuals. This can be problematic for employees that commute to work. If an employee’s job requires them to be present as the work space and is showing signs of contracting the coronavirus (coughing, fever, trouble breathing) or is feeling ill, they should not be reporting to work and should be contained until they are feeling well or has been medically cleared to return to work.
Revisit your policies and connect with IT. If your organization doesn’t have a remote policy or a contingency plan for emergencies, it is recommended to look into these options to include in the employee manual. Should an employee be required to work from home, organizations should make sure adequate accommodations are made so that employees can access files that are necessary for their work. Managers should connect with IT to make sure employees are using secure measures to store and access confidential information. If an organization does not allow employees to work remotely, it is recommended that they include a PTO rule for emergency cases.
Take advantage of technology. Federal, state and local authorities have regulated that there should not be meetings or congregations of more than 10 people. While a lot of us have conferences and daily meetings to attend, many organizations are meeting virtually through Skype, GoTo Meeting, or Zoom to continue normal work practices. It is also helpful to have chat functions so staff don’t feel bored or depressed and continue having day to day interactions with their teams.
Communicate reminders of hygiene. Since most employees use public transport to travel to and from work, having stations set up for hand sanitizers and signs to remind employees to wash their hands as they come in to the office will help prevent diseases spread to other items in the office. Employers should also take measures to disinfect commonly touched objects such as phones, door knobs, elevator buttons and printers.
Keep an eye out for city and state regulations. Have someone designated to keep track of and communicate any new regulations and public health guidance from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. In doing so, chaos and confusion can be avoided and operations can take effective measures in updating policies and making necessary changes.