This is not an easy time to be a business owner. It can be overwhelming to stay focused and organized on what we can and should be doing for ourselves, our team, and our customers.
This is a quick look at the big-picture actions you can do to stay proactive and protective while navigating working in the time of Coronavirus.
- Stay informed.
There’s a lot to know out there. Facts and recommendations have shifted countless times in the last 2 months. New symptoms, updated statistics and protective procedures, and additional regulations are emerging, and it’s crucial that you and your team know the latest.
Keep up with the latest guidelines, but keep in mind that your state and even county or city might have their own specifications (if you have teams across the country or world, make sure you’re tracking what’s happening where they are). Because this is a business environment, OSHA also has some guidance on how to best protect your employees.
- Understand the risks.
Avoiding unnecessary risks can be a powerful way of taking care of yourself and your business (and not just in relation to Coronavirus, either). In this case, there are two major risk types to be aware of: high risk groups (that is, folks who are more likely to be more gravely affected by the virus) and high risk activities (situations that encourage the spread of the virus).
When it comes to high risk individuals, it’s an increasingly lengthy list. It’s important to remember that while these folks are more at risk in some ways, people of all ages and demographics are being treated for serious COVID-19 complications.
If you have high risk employees on your team, the best thing to do is to allow them to work remotely or separately from the rest of the team if at all possible, or consider staggering work schedules so they aren’t encountering co-workers in the office. This may mean re-assigning tasks or shifting their job duties temporarily or being creative about how to get work done.
If your business serves people who have increased risks, there are precautions that you will need to take to keep them safe (see item number 3 below).
When it comes to high risk activities or situations, anything with people standing in close proximity to one another qualifies. Remember, up to 25% of people who contract Coronavirus are asymptomatic, so the best thing to do is avoid having people in contact if you can.
Of course, the nature of many jobs is to be in contact with people, and so for many, avoiding high risk situations is impossible in the workplace. In that case, again, we’d recommend taking (and enforcing) as many precautions as you and your employees can.
- Employ and enforce precautions.
All of us, even those who can work remotely and remove themselves from most risks, need to be taking precautions. In workplaces especially, precautions can make all of the difference for both your employees and customers you may still be encountering.
What you should be doing will depend on your industry and situation, but generally, workplace recommendations include:
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
- Ensure hygiene supplies are easily available and stocked
- Practice social distancing at all times
- Cancel gatherings of people (including meetings, conferences, and in-person events)
- Cancel non-essential travel
- Consider health checks such as employee or visitor screenings
In addition, reviewing, updating, and relaxing paid sick and personal time policies will help encourage people to take the time to stay healthy and not put others at risk.
Make sure that you’re documenting all of your policies formally and distributing them to your team and customers. Let customers know what to expect when they do encounter your staff and what precautions you’re enforcing to keep everybody healthy. Customers will feel better knowing you’ve mitigated the risks to them and to your team.
- Recognize signs & symptoms.
Just knowing what to look for isn’t enough; what happens (and what should you do) if you or someone on your team experiences them? That all depends on the severity of the symptoms, but self-isolation is certainly the first step.
People who are experiencing symptoms should not be in the office or interacting with customers, and should closely monitor their symptoms. Depending on where you are, they might need to contact their doctor (call before showing up at their office) or state or local health department for their recommendations.
If someone in your office has been sick, make sure to disinfect the space thoroughly and immediately.
There is a lot to take in and a lot to be thinking about. But if you try to focus on those 4 components, your employees, customers, and community will appreciate that you’re taking appropriate precautions during this challenging time.