To help combat the spread of COVID-19, many offices are allowing employees to work from home. But few companies can shut down completely and must have at least some workers coming to the office each day. Here are some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help keep COVID-19 from spreading in your workplace, even with reduced staffing levels:
Encourage good hygiene. Send hand washing reminders by e-mail and encourage all employees to wash their hands immediately after reporting to work. Post hand-washing reminders in the bathroom. Make hand sanitizer freely available wherever employees are. Remind employees to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes.
Stop hand shaking. Use other non-contact methods of greeting. Try to keep employees who are in the office separated as much as possible.
Step up cleaning efforts. Surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails should be disinfected more frequently.
Use videoconferencing for meetings when possible. When not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces. Consider postponing large meetings or gatherings.
Encourage sick workers to stay home. Studies show that many employees nationwide come to work even if they have a cold or flu. In some offices, it’s a badge of honor to come to work even if you aren’t feeling well. Make sure employees know that if they aren’t feeling well, have been tested for COVID-19 or have a member of their household with COVID-19, they should stay home. The coronavirus can incubate from anywhere between 2-14 days. In the early stages, it doesn’t always present symptoms and some people who have it do not have significant symptoms.
Assist employees who are at higher risk. Some employees, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, may be at higher risk for serious illness. Employers may want to consider minimizing face-to-face contact between these employees and other employees or customers and/or assigning work tasks that allow them to maintain a distance of six feet from other colleagues and customers.
Don’t forget about mental health. The coronavirus pandemic is having wide-reaching effects on almost every aspect of American life. Understandably, many people report feeling anxious, afraid and unsure about what’s next. You can’t predict the future, but you can encourage your employees to care for their mental health — whether they are at home or at the office.