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7 Best Business Practices for Those Going Back to the Office amidst COVID-19

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Business Continuity Planning - Guide, Process and Tools (61-slide PowerPoint presentation). The disruption COVID-19 caused has made businesses more aware of the importance of business continuity planning (BCP) for effective disruption-related preparation, response and recovery. Although the term "business continuity" is often used as a synonym for IT Disaster recovery [read more]

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COVID-19 has affected the whole world for several months now. Even with its known risks, it’s very clear that certain services need to go back to some semblance of normalcy. If you run a business that needs to reopen again, here are some best practices that can help you.

1. Perform health checks regularly

Health checks on employees should be done on a daily basis. Before they enter the workplace, they should be screened for temperature and symptoms among other things. There should also be measures taken to encourage social distancing among employees and customers.

2. Have employees wear PPE

Employees are required to wear equipment that protects them against exposure. This can be in the form of masks, face shield, gloves, etc. Each set of PPE may be unique depending on the employee’s job duties and they should be trained on its correct use. There should be no additional cost for the employee to wear these. It should be covered by you, the employer.

3. Encourage sick employees to stay home

Employees who experience symptoms should stay home and remain isolated until further advised by their healthcare providers. If they have family members at home who are sick with the virus, they should let their employers know and follow the recommended precautions by the CDC.

Usually, employers require that employees present a note that validates their sickness. But in this case, it is not required. Medical facilities are overwhelmed at the moment and they might not be able to supply the note that’s required. Employees can still use the sick leave that’s offered to them. 

There is no need to close down your office because of one sick employee. Simply close off the area where the sick person was exposed so it can be cleaned and disinfected. You’ll also want to open windows and doors to encourage air circulation.

4. Identify ways of exposure

This can prevent anyone from getting sick in the first place. Before opening up, you want to conduct an assessment of your workplace and identify areas of hazard. You then need to create a specific solution to make this area less risky whether it’s barrier control or additional PPE.

5. Educate employees on how to protect themselves

Employees get exposure from the outside too so it makes sense that they should also take the same precautions when off work. Educate them on the steps they can take to protect themselves e.g. washing hands, using alcohol, avoid touching the face, cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, social distancing, etc.

For employees that use public transportation to get to work, you can offer to support them by incentivizing other forms of transport like ridesharing with family members, biking, or walking. You can also offer different work hours where commute areas are not as busy.

6. Stay updated of community-level strategies

Each area is impacted by the virus differently. Some have high infection rates while some have it low. This means that each community will have a unique set of mitigation strategies for businesses. Make sure that you are always updated on what these are and implement them accordingly. Let your employees or boss know and don’t hesitate to ask for their input as well. 

7. Check OSHA for guidance

It’s great to have an employer who can provide better opportunities for disabled workers. But what’s even better is an employer who will cover for you in case you do get disabled on the job. Having to work during a pandemic is considered a risk. This means you as an employer have an obligation to lessen these risks as well as cover your employees in case they do get sick on the job.

Which of these steps do you see being implemented in your workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

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