May 18, 2020

Lead Your Business into a Post-COVID World with These Best Practices

Workplace health and safety during COVID-19

After several weeks of sheltering in place, many regions are looking at how they can safely reopen the economy. While we may never return to “normal,” we can begin to look ahead to when we’ll once again see our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. 

It can be hard to know how to facilitate your team’s return to the workplace. Some companies have still been managing essential employees and operations, while others have transitioned to working entirely from home. Federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued interim guidelines to help businesses navigate this time. 

Below are some of the ways you can plan to resume business operations while maintaining workplace health and safety for your employees and customers. 

Prioritize employee and customer health

It should go without saying, but if the health and safety of your employees and clients weren’t an obvious priority, it must be now. 

If your employees will be reentering a shared office space and/or you will soon have customers in your building, you must clearly demonstrate the actions you’re taking to protect their health. 

Best practices include:

  • Frequently sanitizing high-touch surfaces and work stations (ideally after each use)
  • Reconfiguring office space to accommodate social distancing
  • Taking employees’ temperatures before entering the building
  • Avoid business travel where possible in favor of virtual meetings
  • Strengthen health screenings for cafeteria employees
  • Requiring PPE, such as face masks and gloves, especially for customer-facing employees
  • Improve the building ventilation rates and only hold gatherings in well-ventilated spaces

Post how your company is addressing COVID-19 in a space where people can clearly see it and include contact information for anyone to share concerns. Link to it online as well so that people know what to prepare for when entering your space. 

 

Implement flexible policies for workplace health and safety

While you’re working to keep your employees safe in the workplace, there are a variety of other factors they face outside the office. Maybe an employee has a preexisting condition that puts her at risk, or an employee needs to stay home to care for his children. Flexible work-from-home accommodations will keep all employees safe 

If an employee does begin to display symptoms, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath, he or she should be immediately sent home. Employees should not be required to produce a doctor’s note or proof of a positive COVID-19 test in order to access leave. Allowing employees to continue arriving at work risks further spread of the virus, and more of your workforce becoming infected. 

If your company does not currently offer sick leave to some or all of your employees, you may want to consider an emergency sick leave policy. Without flexible leave policies, you risk employees continuing to work for fear of losing income. Employees may also choose not to disclose if a household member has tested positive. 

Many employees may not ever receive diagnosis or treatment—for COVID-19 or other health issues—if they lack health insurance. Supportive employee benefits will protect both your employees and your business, now and in the future. 

Because guidance is always changing, and employee situations differ, it helps to have a point person to manage all COVID-related concerns. Inform employees of the processes they should take to work with their supervisor, and designate a coordinator to handle all COVID-19 issues. 

 

Prepare for ongoing disruptions

While the number of new COVID-19 cases appears to be declining in some areas, it’s likely that state and local governments will continue to enforce quarantines until there is a vaccine or treatment. 

Knowing this, companies should be using this time to create contingency plans for future outbreaks if they haven’t already. Questions to ask include:

  • How can your business pivot operations in the long-term?
  • Are you indefinitely able to shift operations to be fully remote?
  • How can you help support employees making the transition to working from home?
  • Which employees are essential? Which employees must come into the workplace?
  • Are your employee leave policies and health insurance offerings comprehensive enough to support employees?

Create a series of phases or tiers for what happens at your business that corresponds to what’s happening in your area. For example, if local or state government is reopening businesses, what does that mean for your company? If virus containment is failing in your region, what does that mean for your employees?

 

Keep your employees healthy and safe

At Plexus, we’re committed to the welfare and safety of our associates and clients. We’ve created a COVID-19 resource page updated with the latest information to help you during this time. 

We’re here to support you through this crisis. Consider taking a personal risk assessment to evaluate your risk vulnerability and learn the steps to take to reduce it.