This is a tough in our ever changing COVID-19 environment. It takes a lot of discussion and research to figure out what will work best for your office or worksite. As I started anticipating North Carolina lifting the Stay at Home order and Charlotte, NC moving into Phase 1 I found myself questing everything. My approach was to research what it would take to keep my team safe if we were to return to the office.
What does your physical space look like? If you are inside or outside you have to look at the actual physical space you are working in. Is it possible for you to separate your employees by 6 feet of space? In office environments if you have desks you need to ensure your teams desk spaces are 6 feet apart. Open office concepts might make this challenging and you will have to get creative. You can physical move the desks 6 feet apart or you may need to create physical barriers from cardboard or plywood.
If you are work site either inside or out is it possible to separate your employees? If it is work diligently to layout a schedule to make that happen. If it is not possible you need to take every safety precaution you can. Check out this link to the Department of Labor’s website and OSHA guidelines for Coronavirus. https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus
How do you make sure your office or worksite is clean and safe environment for your team and your clients?
The last thing you really have to analyze is how will you make sure your office is a clean and safe environment for your team and your clients? is a debate about how long COVID-19 lives on surfaces and the answer is different depending on the surface. (4 hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard and 2-3 days on plastic or stainless steel) The takeaway from this is it lives on surfaces much longer than you think and you have to implement different cleaning protocol.
In your office space if you have a contract with a commercial cleaning company consult with them on what they are offering. Beyond that you will need daily and even hourly for cleaning on high touch surfaces. Common areas like the front doorknobs, tables, handrails, desks you need to have 1 staff person designated to clean these surfaces at regular intervals depending on your level of traffic. What about all the common appliances for your team members use? You will have to create rules for them or temporarily remove them. In our office we implemented using a disinfectant wipe to clean the item you use after each use. If you have common computer equipment the best idea is to limit use of these things to just one team member. Do not allow team members to share desk spaces, keyboards, postage machine and sprinter/scanner.
If you are on a worksite these same safety protocols must be followed. Masks need to be worn correctly at all times. It is imperative that your employees know how to properly clean them if they are washable if not provide new disposable masks daily and training on how to correctly wear them.
Temperature checks can be another effective tool to implement. If you are going to do this make sure whoever will be doing the checks understands how to operate the thermometer and that you have procedures in place for what happens if an employee registers a temperature.
If you are open to the public, you will need to have another process and procedure put in place for anyone visiting the office or job site. Some suggestions are to have guests only appointment only to avoid multiple people in your lobby. Create a sanitary station clients need to access when they enter your place of business. This would include things like making sure they wear a mask (and providing them if they do not have one). Insisting on a guest washing his/her hands upon arrival and before meeting with anyone. You will also need to designate a team member who will enforce these practices who is kind yet tough enough to make sure every person follows through. After all this is for the health of your team and the guest.
New employee processes and procedures while at work
Here are some of the things on our Process & Procedure for Team Members in the office:
- No handshaking/hugging/physical greetings of any kind
- Hanging hand washing guides in restroom
- Avoid touching your face and cover your face with a tissue for coughs and sneezes
- If you are sick stay home
- Stay home if you have a family member sick
- Family Medical Leave Act – have you read this and do you understand the implications for your office – https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave
Supplies you need
Here is a list of some supplies you will need:
- Every desk must haves
- Video camera
- Tissues for every desk
- Hand sanitizer for every desk (60% alcohol or more) – do not share the bottle
- Masks – have to be washed daily in hot water. Consider providing several for your staff.
- Desktop scanners
- Clorox wipes
- Toilet Paper
- Paper towels for restroom – disposable
- No touch trash cans
- Extra Hand soap
During this time, it is critically important to the vitality of your business that everyone is cross-trained. If you have an employee who becomes ill, you will need to pivot and the employee may be out of work for 14 days or longer. Your operation has to be able to run smoothly. You will also need to exercise a great deal of flexibility during this crisis. In the last 8 weeks I found leading in a crisis is challenging and the most important thing I will leave you with is our employees need us to lead them. Knee jerk reactions will not help them manage this crisis. Deep thought and careful consideration will be key in leading our team during this or any crisis.
Wishing you and your business health and wellness.