Even in this day and age, not every industry has the privilege of allowing their employees to work from home. As an employer, it’s your duty and your moral responsibility to try and keep them as safe as possible while they’re in your workplace. Sure, you’re not all-powerful and viruses are a tricky thing, especially seeing as how it could take days (five days to two weeks) before first symptoms start manifesting themselves. Nevertheless, it’s your duty to do all that’s in your power to organize the place properly and protect your employees from this deadly disease. Here are several tips to point you in the right direction.
Let people work from home
The first thing worth mentioning is a tad paradoxical, seeing as how we’re talking about workplace organization. If you could let everyone work from home, great, you should do that. However, if you still feel the need for the workplace (and there are plenty of reasons why a workplace is essential), you’ll have to work your way around this. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that everyone should be at the office. There’s at least that one department, those several employees that you could let take their work home. This way, you’re giving everyone more personal space, which automatically makes your office safer. Even if someone in the office gets sick, people working from home are still safe.
Flexible work hours
Another alternative to telecommuting that you could introduce is flexible work hours. The logic behind this is simply flawless – if people don’t come to the office at the same time, the office will be a lot less crowded. Other benefits that this gives you come in terms of employee productivity. You see, there’s a general consensus that the first two hours in the morning are the most productive of the entire day. While this is somewhat scientifically proven, this is not the case when it comes to every single individual out there. So, by allowing people to come in whenever they feel like it (as long as they work a certain number of work hours), you’ll create a unique, positive working environment.
Consider a cubicle system
In the present-day business world, there’s a lot of unfounded hate for the cubicle system. However, it’s a layout that has numerous benefits. First, it allows people more privacy. Second, if you allow your employees to decorate their own cubicle any way they want, they will start feeling a sense of ownership of the office. This alone will drastically boost employee loyalty.
During the epidemics, however, the primary benefit of cubicles is the fact that it gives everyone their own safe space. A space in which they can stay even without their mask on and without endangering everyone around them. Sure, upon leaving the cubicle, the mask should be put back on and the place disinfected but in these trying times, this is the closest thing you can come to the regular (normal) workplace.
While it is true that the majority of people know how to act during this epidemic (commercials, ads and public warnings are everywhere), there’s nothing bad in reminding them every now and then. Hang some posters around the place telling everyone how they should act in certain situations. In the bathroom, hang a descriptive poster of how one should properly wash their hands. Once again, you’re not doing this to teach people, only to remind them. Also, you might want to get your hands on some social distancing floor stickers. These can be distributed all over the place, for instance, in front of the photocopier machine.
Keeping the place clean
The next thing you need to understand is the importance of providing your employees with everything necessary like disinfectant dispensers, spare masks and gloves (if they’ve forgotten some), etc. The bathroom also needs to have a sufficient amount of soap, since washing one’s hands still seem to be the most effective methods of keeping the place clean. Other than this, you need to pay closer attention to who you’re actually hiring to do the cleaning of the place. The cleaning crew you hire needs to be safe, reliable and thorough. Since this is in direct correlation with the overall health in the office, there’s nothing that’s of the higher priority.
Previously, we’ve mentioned that the majority of your staff is already well-informed on the subject matter. However, their independent efforts to get informed are not something that you can put all your hopes in. This is why you need to show some initiative and raise awareness around the office. First of all, there’s a lot of faulty information out there. So, when printing brochures or sending circular emails, make sure to use only credible sources. When it comes to introducing safe office conduct rules, you need to follow government regulations (again, from official government sources).
Measure their temperature at the entrance
In an ideal world, people would be completely honest with each other and avoid any form of behaviour that endangers their coworkers. Sadly, this is not always the case and you can’t just take everyone’s word. So, measure the temperature of each individual as they come to the office, just to be on the safe side. The use of a scanning temperature measurement device is optimal here, seeing as how it doesn’t require physical contact with the person in question. Sure, just because one has temperature, this doesn’t mean that they’re positive for COVID-19. Likewise, just because they don’t have the temperature, this doesn’t mean that they’re negative.
Let them stay at home if they’re feeling down
If an employee is feeling down, you should allow them to stay at home. Are there some employees who are going to abuse this? Of course, there are. Nonetheless, forcing one to work when they’re not feeling like it, will have them work at suboptimal capacity. Moreover, if they’re feeling like they’re getting sick and you ignore their plea, you risk lowering the morale of the entire office, even creating a full-blown panic. Think about it, it’s enough for your employees to start believing that one of their coworkers has symptoms of COVID-19 for all of them to start despairing. Best-case scenario (the one where everyone’s completely healthy), your employees will be distracted for several days.
Paid sick leave
While, in theory, everyone should put their health first, there are a lot of people who are sceptical about COVID-19. Moreover, there are some people whose financial situation doesn’t allow them to take sick leave or a day off. When people have to choose between their health and their finances, not everyone opts for the first. The worst situation here lies in the fact that it’s not just their health that’s in question but that of others in your employ, as well. Therefore, by offering them paid sick leave, you will make it easier for them to make the right choice. Not to mention that you will get to reap some of their sympathies and drastically increase employee loyalty.
The business world requires a lot of conferences. Nowadays, it is or should be replaced with video conferencing. The most important thing you need to keep in mind here is the fact that you just don’t know the lifestyle of the person on the other end of the line. People are still throwing secret private parties, which is quite hazardous in this day and age. So, no matter how strongly they advocate these safety measures, you just can’t trust them 100 per cent. Try to keep physical contact with partners, suppliers, investors and even your own employees to a minimum. Video conferencing is one way to pull this off.
As we’ve already said, it’s important that you take all the necessary steps of precaution. Will this be enough? It might or it might not. What matters is that you do everything that’s up to you to keep the people that you work with safe. Remember, your business is not the office space, the brand or the service that you provide – it’s the people in your employ. Keeping them healthy means taking care of your business.