There is plenty of well-meaning but misinformed advice out there about how to adjust and return to the office with the coronavirus still a threat in several cities and in vulnerable populations.
As we make our own plans at Transcend and talk to our clients, we’re sticking to the recommendations from the Center’s for Disease Control (CDC) and the White House to reenter the office space. We’ve created a summary of their guidelines for businesses here to help you make strategic decisions about getting back to the office.
Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK, whenever possible and feasible with business operations.
If possible, RETURN TO WORK IN PHASES.
Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
Minimize NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.
Strongly consider SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS for personnel who are members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION.
According to the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses, “business operation decisions should be based on both the level of disease transmission in the community and your readiness to protect the safety and health of your employees and customers.”
As an employer, if your business operations were interrupted, resuming normal or phased activities presents an opportunity to update your COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plans. All employers should implement and update as necessary a plan that:
Is specific to your workplace,
identifies all areas and job tasks with potential exposures to COVID-19, and
includes control measures to eliminate or reduce such exposures.
The CDC recommends approaching a phase-in with three key components in mind:
If it has been 7 days or more since the sick employee used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in the facility.
Maintaining a Healthy Work Environment
Encourage frequent handwashing
After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
Before, during, and after preparing food
After using the toilet
After touching garbage
Before and after the work shift
Before and after work breaks
After touching objects that have been handled by customers
Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.
Provide soap and water in the workplace. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. If hands are visibly dirty, soap and water should be chosen over hand sanitizer.
Place hand sanitizer in multiple locations to encourage good hand hygiene practices.
Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, the importance of hand hygiene, and coughing and sneezing etiquette at the entrance to your workplace and in other work areas where employees are likely to see them.
Consider options to increase physical space between employees and customers such as opening a drive-through, erecting partitions, and marking floors to guide spacing at least six feet apart.
At least once a day clean and disinfect surfaces frequently touched by multiple people. This includes door handles, desks, phones, light switches, and faucets,
Consider assigning a person to rotate throughout the workplace to clean and disinfect surfaces.
Consider scheduling handwashing breaks so employees can wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Sustaining Healthy Business Operations
Social distancing is critical in maintaining regularly operating businesses. Some suggestions from the CDC include:
Allowing flexible worksites (such as telework)
Allowing flexible work hours (such as staggered shifts)
Increasing physical space between employees at the worksite
Increasing physical space between employees and customers (such as a drive-through and partitions)
Implementing flexible meeting and travel options (such as postponing non-essential meetings or events)
Delivering services remotely (e.g., phone, video, or web)
Delivering products through curbside pick-up or delivery
Offer sick leave or, for companies without a sick-leave policy, provide non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.
When videoconferencing or teleconferencing is not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces, and space chairs at least 6 feet apart.
Encourage staff and attendees to stay home if sick.
As the data and information on the virus continue to unfold, so will the guidelines for properly addressing it in the work environment. In the meantime, we believe it’s essential to the health of our team and the culture of care we want to exude, that we take all of these measures into account as we ensure the safety of our people and our business.
We wish you the best in doing the right thing for your business and its customers.