Few business owners can say that their operations were not affected by COVID-19. While some might have experienced a rush on products, others have barely managed to keep their doors open. Everyone is looking forward to a return to some semblance of normality once all businesses reopen.
However, it is not a matter of opening a business's doors and resuming operations as though nothing has happened. Over a year has passed since the coronavirus became a reality. People's personal and professional lives have been altered drastically by COVID-19, making reopening a business a process that should be handled with caution and sensitivity.
Here are some things for business owners to consider:
Screening and Testing
As employees return to work, they should face rigorous screening protocols to establish if they have symptoms of COVID-19. This includes a short questionnaire about their overall health, asking about specific symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath. Additionally, their temperature should be recorded when they enter the business premises. Some companies utilize on-site event COVID testing in Palo Alto and other US cities when everyone returns to work and ahead of meetings and conferences with third parties. The most trusted names for on-site Covid testing are Drip Hydration and Color, Covid Clinic, Global 7 Diagnostics and Event Scan.
Some employee organizations have raised concerns about employee privacy as it relates to screening. However, in the face of an overwhelming, deadly pandemic, screening is a necessity. The onus is on employers to reassure workers that screening is not done to stigmatize or punish anyone. Instead, it should be viewed as a means to protect the employee and their colleagues.
Employees who experience symptoms at work should report to an isolation room before returning home. Any employee with direct close contact with an infected person should quarantine to ensure they do not have coronavirus. Employees who feel unwell should be discouraged from reporting for duty.
These sound like easy measures to implement. However, some companies have punitive time off policies. Fear of not being paid or losing their job due to illness drives many employees to work when they are sick. While employers have a legitimate right to have their employees available and keep the business running, this cannot happen at the expense of staff members' health.
Companies cannot afford to have employees coming to work with COVID-19 because of the potential for spreading it to the entire workforce. Many business owners need to revise their sick leave and time off policies to accommodate the 'new normal' we find ourselves in.
Many employees fear returning to work, worried that they might become ill. Employers need to take active measures to prevent this by having premises sanitized and maintaining high standards of cleanliness. Information about such efforts should be shared with employees to reassure them that the employer is doing everything within reason to keep them safe.
Employees want to know that their employer takes COVID-19 seriously and will implement rigorous protocols to prevent its spread. This includes supplying PPE to staff members, installing sanitizer points throughout the premises, and using signage to remind staff to maintain a safe social distance. Workers who see their employers making a substantive effort to keep the workplace safe will feel more motivated to return to their duties.
For now, the idea of shared equipment, such as printers and phones, should be discouraged. If a person exposed to COVID-19 has to stand and walk across the office, bypassing colleagues, to reach a printer, the chances of infecting someone else get higher. Developing work methodologies that keep people seated and moving around less should be prioritized. Transparent screens placed between individuals' workstations will also curb the spread of COVID-19.
Keep meetings to a bare minimum or conduct them remotely, with people attending online at their workstations. Employers will need to lend careful consideration to allowing the use of common areas and items, such as break rooms and coffee machines.
Communication with employees has never been more critical and should be a company priority. Workers want to experience a high degree of transparency from their employers about steps to protect staff members and what is expected of them.
Companies need a coronavirus safety committee, and employees should have a say over who represents them. This committee addresses pressing issues about the virus and keeping everyone protected. After reaching decisions, the committee must communicate them with employees timeously and directly.