Fighting Coronavirus in the workplace
With over 350 cases of coronavirus confirmed within the UK, it now seems inevitable that in the coming weeks, the vast majority of businesses will be affected by its spread.
In early March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed to the press that the government expects around one in five workers to either contract the virus or be forced into quarantine to stem the spread of the illness.
However, whilst many are looking toward to the implementation of remote working policies as the ultimate solution to the issue, this isn’t always possible. Many businesses such as customer-service roles, retail, construction and the service industry simply cannot be operated remotely. So, what can bosses do to fight the spread of coronavirus and make their workplaces as secure as possible from the threat of COVID-19? Below are five recommendations outlined by the government in its action plan, and general advice for good hygiene.
Stem the spread of misinformation
All of the practical advice offered by the UK Government states that whilst mask-wearing has become something of a regular fixture in the general public, evidence has shown that such precautions are highly ineffective unless you yourself have been infected, in which case self-isolation is a much more practical step. Instead, professionals should be washing hands regularly, using anti-bacterial gel and avoiding touching their face. When in close quarters with others, such as in the workplace, it’s also recommended that colleagues avoid touching and handshakes. As a boss, if a rumour is making its way around the office that you know to be incorrect, let your staff know straight away and recommend only trusting official Government guidelines.
Build disinfection into your routine
Studies have shown that the workplace is a hotbed of bugs and illness; as a result, a necessity to inbuild widespread disinfecting into your daily routine is a positive move. This simply means ensuring that each team has access to disinfectant wipes, and uses them at least twice a day on any surface that is regularly touched such as door handles, keyboards, phone receivers etc. Shai Aharony, Chief Executive at digital marketing agency Reboot, told the media that he reccomends putting an egg timer on one of the tables in the middle of the office to remind staff to wash their hands every 30 minutes. Additionally, to prevent the spread Reboot has announced that staff are prohibited from sharing keyboards or any other computer equipment. “Where possible, we ask [employees] to work from home and video call for any meetings. We have also banned table tennis in the office,” Aharony told the BBC.
Identify signs of illness
Whilst you may well be educated on the signs of illness, that doesn’t mean your staff are. As the boss, it’s your job to ensure that if a worker is ill and still comes into work, that they are sent home to either recover or work remotely to stem the potential spread. If an employee starts displaying symptoms, call 111 immediately and follow the NHS guidelines on dealing with such a situation.
Promote a non-toxic culture
One of the key reasons employees may attempt to come into work despite feeling unwell is because they believe that there will be negative ramifications if they don’t. The only way to ensure that workers self-isolate in the event that they do come down with coronavirus is to promote that this is the right course of action and no negative ramifications will be felt if they choose to do this. The Government has confirmed that for those suffering, statutory sick pay will be paid from the first day of illness, and if they are able to work, then remote working is a viable option.
The virus is expected to get much worse. Whilst new cases are being identified each day, the whole country needs to be prepared for the implications. Whilst it’s impossible to account for all eventualities, having a logical strategy in place to ensure that business can continue as normal as possible is essential to avert disaster. This may mean trialling remote working now, before it’s a necessity, having workers divide themselves into different locations, minimising the potential for the whole business to get infected at once, or even simply delaying certain business until the pandemic has passed. Planning ahead now could be the difference between being able to operate and losing vast amounts of value from your business