With COVID-19 altering the way that the world works, a set of standard guidelines for businesses everywhere to implement will provide a safer working space for all employees and employers alike. Here are some of the basic guidelines companies can follow and how their human resources department can apply them.
- Make your SOPs known.
The very first step to follow in any company is to ensure all of your employees are aware of the measures the business is taking in curbing the spread of COVID-19. In an article on how Malaysian offices are keeping the workplace safe, Vulcan Post recommends handing out rule books or sending an email with detailed COVID-19 Guidelines and Preventive Measures. Intelligent HR software systems like Herd HR can even send push notifications to your employees to keep them updated. In an article on creating a safer space for working environments, the team at Robin (an American-based company providing workplace experience software) recommend continuing to provide clear, concise and well-worded updates that are relevant to your location, industry, current work culture, and the overall state of the pandemic.
- Check the body temperatures of all who enter your premises.
In February of 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that “temperature screening alone, at exit or entry, is not an effective way to stop international spread, since infected individuals may be in incubation period, may not express apparent symptoms early on in the course of the disease, or may dissimulate fever through the use of antipyretics”. However, throughout the course of the pandemic, many countries have now opted to record people’s temperatures and base allowance for entry to public premises on those same numbers. Vulcan Post agrees that “Temperature checks are one of the easiest ways to immediately identify if you should let someone into your premises or not.”
- Set up a proper system for contact tracing.
There’s no point in checking people’s body temperatures if you don’t have a proper contact tracing system in place. In some countries, the technology is available (and compulsory) nationwide. For those that aren’t, keeping a record of those clocking-in to office may be a simple, sufficient solution for the time being. An employee database management software like Herd HR’s would allow you to view and access this information all at a glance, so you can keep your working space a safe one. The team at Robin suggest to “either prohibit or keep visitors to a minimum unless absolutely necessary.”
- Extend your employees’ WFH period or split your operations
Many companies across the world have resorted to moving their entire operations online, allowing most of their employees to work from home up until March 2021. The team at Robin advises businesses who have opted for the WFH system to “make sure tech is consistent across the entire company including communication, video conferencing, project management, and collaboration tools.” This will help the transition for your employees to be much smoother. However, if your business is such that it cannot operate online, the Centre of Disease Control recommends “stagger[ing] shifts, start times, and break times as feasible to reduce the number of employees in common areas.” Invest in an employee time tracking software like Herd HR to easily schedule shifts so you won’t miss a beat. And if your employees have to rely on public transport, the CDC also recommends to “allow employees to shift their hours so they can commute during less busy times.” This lowers the chance of contracting COVID-19 and introducing it to the workplace as well.
- Create contactless functionality for high-touch points and necessary devices.
In times like these, it’s best to disinfect frequently accessed items and provide various sanitization methods for your employees to practice. Install hand sanitisers at entryways, use contactless check-in at the door, and post instructions and reminders at strategic places on hand hygiene, COVID-19 symptoms, wearing cloth face coverings, and cough and sneeze etiquette. The CDC also encourages companies to “replace high-touch communal items, such as coffee pots and bulk snacks, with alternatives such as pre-packaged, single-serving items. Encourage staff to bring their own water to minimize use and touching of water fountains or consider installing no-touch activation methods for water fountains.”
- Implement social distancing measures in the workplace.
While it’s best to implement a WFH system or conduct meetings online instead, for companies who are still required to gather at the office, the CDC has several suggestions for social distancing in the office: “Modify or adjust seats, furniture, and workstations to maintain social distancing of 6 feet between employees… Use signs, tape marks, or other visual cues such as decals or colored tape on the floor, placed 6 feet apart, to show where to stand [or] install transparent shields or other physical barriers to separate employees and visitors where social distancing is not an option.”
Keeping in mind all of the procedures needed to keep your working environment a safe space, it is imperative that your employees follow these guidelines to curb the spread of COVID-19 and that you find the right tools to help implement these safety precautions.