Stopping the spread of COVID is of paramount importance for employers whose workers are back in the workplace. But employees might not naturally protect themselves from health-related risks. This puts the onus on businesses to set the stage for safer working while the pandemic’s still creeping across the globe.
What are some measures and strategies to keep your workforce well amid coronavirus worries and stressors? Try these 10 techniques to lower everyone’s risk of contracting COVID or any other contagious medical condition.
1. Create Company-Specific Safety Protocols
Using CDC recommendations as guidelines, generate an internal safety guidebook to inform employees of their and the business’s safety responsibilities. To make sure everyone can see this information at a glance, put it in a centralized database. You can also create it as a shared document, such as with Google Docs or a similar platform.
Of course, understandings about coronavirus can and probably will change. When they do, you’ll need to make updates to this document. Highlight new or altered passages so people can see what’s different at a glance.
2. Make Self-Reporting Effortless and Private
Many companies conduct temperature assessments on their workers when they arrive at the building. While this makes sense, workers should have a way of self-reporting when they feel sick with COVID symptoms.
A COVID symptom screening tool can make it simple and discrete for team members to check in from their homes every day. Their responses come back to you, and you can measure the data day to day. You can also use a robust app to help with contact tracing, if necessary. Knowing ahead of time that you have a potential outbreak on your hands can be a huge asset, especially if you have to close the office for the day to disinfect.
3. Put Social Distancing Reminders Everywhere
Everyone knows they’re supposed to wear face masks, stand at least six feet apart, and avoid shaking hands, right? Maybe, but people will often let their guards down or just forget. That’s where subtle and not-so-subtle reminders come into play.
Many companies are selling everything from floor mats to cardboard reception area “tents” to serve as helpful social distancing and personal safety hints. Some of these items can be customized so they blend in with your decor and interior design. By scattering reminder pieces around in busy areas like bathrooms and kitchenettes, you help everyone comply.
4. Provide Cleaning and Sanitization Items
If you expect your employees to keep their workspaces neat, tidy, and clean, provide them with supplies. Though it was tough to snag wipes, spray cleaners, and paper towels when the pandemic started, they’re in abundance now.
As a side note, you may have to remind everyone to wipe off their desks and office door handles periodically. It might even be something everyone does at the same time each day, just to stay on top of sanitization. It shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, which means you won’t lose productivity; you’ll just gain peace of mind.
5. Upgrade Office Furnishings
Your previous office layout might not have been conducive to social distancing or safe team collaboration. Start investigating everything from stationary or movable plastic divider screens to individual cubbies rather than shared workstations.
Though this is a long-term investment, it may need to be done depending on your workflow. Use your best judgment, making sure your furniture is set up to promote intuitive “safety zones” between colleagues.
6. Allow Staggered Work-From-Home Options
Yes, you want to bring everyone back to the office as a return to some semblance of normalcy. However, things have changed for many of your staffers. Some may have kids at home who aren’t going to school in person. Others may worry about going to work five days a week.
Staggered or hybrid-style remote working may be a way to boost safety at your facility and even save money without compromising efficiency. For instance, if personnel stagger in-office days, you may not need to upgrade all the furnishings. Similarly, you might want to be flexible on what time workers clock in and out to meet their needs and your business’s.
7. Ramp Up Your Regular Cleaning Schedules
Every company or building has a set janitorial schedule. If you’ve never thought about yours, now is the time to investigate. Countless organizations are increasing the frequency of routine and specialty cleanings to improve indoor air quality and reduce the chance of employees getting sick at work.
You’ll probably notice a side effect when you insist upon more janitorial visits: Your spaces will have a fresher, cleaner smell and appearance. That’s bound to improve the morale and engagement of workers, notably ones who have hesitated to come back into headquarters.
8. Send Out Regular Updates and Other Communications
Plenty of articles have made the rounds about the importance of corporate communications during COVID. Why? People crave information, and they want to trust the businesses they serve. Help them feel less concerned by pushing out messages internally.
Your content can take any form. Texts. Emails. Videos. Be quick and to the point, noting anything from how many COVID cases you’ve had in-house, to protocol updates. You don’t need to churn out long copy or Hollywood-style films. Just be open and honest.
9. Ensure Leaders Practice What They Preach
It’s very difficult for employees to do the right thing if their leaders get a pass. When a team member sees executives refusing to wear masks, the result can be widespread non-compliance creep across departments.
Unless you want backlash, insist that all leaders follow your guidelines. Everyone’s watching them, putting their moves on the spot. Sure, some will make mistakes—including you from time to time. But make sure your entire leadership team knows your high expectations.
10. Intervene When You See Safety Violations
What happens when someone keeps touching colleagues, giving hugs, or sharing food? Have a method for stopping this type of behavior in its tracks. Obviously, you don’t want to say anything in the moment; that could be awkward for other workers. Instead, save your discipline for a private get-together.
Explain what you witnessed and why it can’t happen again. Chances are good that the worker wasn’t trying to deliberately be defiant. Some people are more touchy than others or may be less inclined to follow rules. Be understanding but firm. The only way to keep everyone safe is for people to keep up their guards.
You have a lot to think about in your role at the head of your company. Nevertheless, the pandemic just added a few more responsibilities to your to-do list, including keeping coworkers safe. Do your best to facilitate an environment that promotes health without losing effectiveness.