At the forefront of all the conversations surrounding businesses reopening across the country, is the conversation about safety in the workplace. While many businesses are still keeping their employees on a remote basis, there are businesses that require a physical presence from their team. As a business owner, your primary concern should be the health and safety of your employees and customers. All places of business, including shops, restaurants, construction sites and offices, must take precautions to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 on-premises.
Here are some considerations as you develop your new safety policies in the post-coronavirus workplace:
- Think about how you can best reiterate and enforce the CDC’s guidelines for proper, frequent handwashing and coughing/sneezing into a tissue or elbow when employees return to work.
- Assess your business’s current cleaning and sanitation practices against the CDC’s recently released recommendations. What procedures can you implement or upgrade to reduce the spread of the virus, and how can your staff help maintain those practices? This may include sourcing and stocking up on cleaning products and sanitizers for employee use during work hours.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- If your business was subject to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s general requirements for employee PPE use, make sure you continue to adhere to those guidelines when you reopen.
- If your state has issued requirements for your employees and/or customers to use face masks and gloves on-premises, have a plan in place to enforce that regulation and provide PPE to employees if at all possible. Otherwise, you may wish to encourage employees wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, per the CDC’s official recommendation.
- Consider how your current workspace can be reconfigured to encourage social distancing if telework is not possible. The CDC recommends installing physical barriers, changing layouts to put at least six feet of distance between work stations, closing communal spaces, staggering shifts and breaks and refraining from large events.
- According to LifeLabs, you may wish to consider limiting the number of employees in the workplace and alternating teams to further encourage social distancing.
Employee health monitoring
- Develop a plan for monitoring your employees’ health, with a particular focus on COVID-19 symptoms.
- Decide how you will handle a positive case of COVID-19 in your workplace after you reopen. OSHA’s guidelines give specific steps on how to manage and isolate employees displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
- Reiterate your sick time and paid time off policies to employees and discourage them from coming to work if they feel ill.
If your business has been able to operate remotely during the crisis and plans to continue this arrangement long-term, cybersecurity will need to be a top priority. Coronavirus scams are rampant, and your employees are the first line of defense against hackers.
You may have put ad-hoc security solutions in place like Virtual Private Network (VPN) access, but if employees will be working from home on a more permanent basis, consider the technical infrastructure you might need to ensure the security of your sensitive business and customer data. This may include banning personal device use for business purposes, limiting company-wide file access, making password managers mandatory, implementing multi-factor authentication and training (or re-training) employees on cybersecurity best practices.
As part of your post-COVID-19 communications, you’ll need to set clear and accurate expectations with those who interact with your business.
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