The COVID 19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone. For businesses, the biggest challenge is resuming operations while also ensuring employee and public safety. Since every business is legally obligated to make health and wellbeing a priority, it’s critical to follow the right protocols and standards to guarantee that the workplace won’t cause the spread of infection.
Perhaps one challenge that’s also posing additional difficulty for businesses is the uncertainty. Right now, there’s still no knowing quite how long we will have to wait for a vaccine for the infection. Also, reduced business activity is hurting the bottom line and forcing companies to make difficult decisions. If your company is lucky enough to resume operations amid the current circumstances, what are the best practices you need to employ to ensure that your office is prepared and protected from the virus?
What is the “new normal” for businesses operating during the pandemic?
If the business has been on lockdown since the pandemic began, resuming operations will mean adhering to strict rules and health and safety guidelines. First, it’s vital that the business assesses risk before reopening. This way, they can better adjust procedures to accommodate the recommended health guidelines. For example, do you have employees who will be at a higher risk of exposure? If so, then what can you do to prevent or reduce this risk?
Another thing to consider is the viability of offering a work-from-home option to employees. Many companies have already moved to a remote work set-up. But, it’s understandable that working from home isn’t suitable for all businesses. Nevertheless, reducing the workforce will still have a significant impact on lessening the risk of potential exposure and infection.
How to reduce transmission and exposure in the workplace
If the company has no other option but resume operations, the most significant priority is to keep the virus at bay. However, it’s clearly easier said than done, for there are plenty of factors at play. What are some proven tips that can help stop the infection from spreading in the workplace?
- Keep the workplace clean and sanitized. Providing employees with access to sanitation products is the company’s responsibility. Every entry or exit point should have disinfection facilities, or at least hand sanitizers ready. Keeping a steady supply of disinfectants, masks, and cleaning products is easy. According to www.aosonline.co.uk, businesses can order COVID 19 essentials like hand soap, sanitizers, thermal scanners, and masks in bulk so that they can have these items at the ready for daily operations.
- Conscious effort to track employee health. Having a dedicated HR team assigned to monitor employee health is the fastest way to prevent the potential spread of infection. Employees should advise HR if they feel any symptom related to the disease. If so, these employees should be asked to stay home to monitor their health or proceed to the nearest hospital.
- Establish guidelines to promote physical distancing. Minimizing physical interaction between employees is proven to be one of the best ways to slow down or stop the spread of infection. If an interaction is unavoidable, employees need to wear proper protective gear all the time. In the retail industry, it gets harder to monitor the movement of every single employee. But, wearing protective clothing decreases the risk of contracting the virus, especially when client interaction is a must.
- Use hands-free technology. Investing in hands-free technology such as thermal cameras will further limit the contact between employees. It may be harder for entryways, but there are access methods designed to avoid unnecessary touching.
- Regular sanitation should be part of the cleaning schedule. Ordinary cleaning isn’t sufficient to kill the virus lurking around common areas and surfaces. Apart from daily cleaning, the company needs to schedule weekly sanitation. Also, it’s best to remove porous surfaces such as fabric, where the virus thrives longer.
- Reinforce new protocols and communicate with employees constantly. COVID 19 guidelines and protocols continue to change, and companies should keep up with these changes. If possible, post the guidelines in locations clearly visible to employees. It’s also recommended to train and educate employees about the importance of adhering to these protocols.
- Take advantage of automation. For companies already equipped with the right technology, automation can offer an additional advantage. For example, web-based software may be used for employees to fill out regarding their health credentials. The data collected will be screened daily to allow or limit access to the facility.
- Use cloud-based security systems. In relation to the previous recommendation, it would be best if businesses eliminate physical badges and key cards to office premises in the meantime. Alternatives include using a cloud-based security system or a mobile-enabled access system that will prevent sharing, misplacing, or forgetting key cards.
At this time, every business resuming operations amid the pandemic should observe the minimum health and safety standards. Depending on the business’s needs, it may be necessary to reinforce these guidelines to guarantee the protection of employees and clients further.
Final thoughts and key takeaways
Reopening a business, despite the ongoing health risk, is a difficult decision for any business. Unfortunately, hard decisions need to be made in order for companies to remain open. The UK government has eased lockdown regulations to help the economy recover, but companies have a greater responsibility to uphold public health and safety.
Ideally, it would be best for companies to limit office work and consider remote operations. For sectors that cannot adopt the same methodology, resuming operations will mean observance and adherence to health guidelines. No one can afford to be complacent at this time. Yes, it may require additional expense for companies to invest in new technology, sanitation equipment, supplies, and more – but all these are essential to avoid the risk of putting employees’ lives in danger.
As businesses embrace the new normal, employees will also begin to embody the new culture. Instilling the significance of following health guidelines, after all, is our only weapon now against the pandemic and will be so until the virus is gone, or a viable vaccine becomes available.