For the SMB Returning to Work

The COVID-19 pandemic is the first time many of us have had to deal with this level of threat, and now that businesses start to re-open in an attempt to stagnate a recessionary dive in the economy, there is a lot of ground to cover. Today, we go through the considerations you need to make, and the actions you need to take, to keep your business clear of COVID-19, and what steps to take if the virus makes its way into your business.  Mitigation Understand Requirements While stay-at-home orders may be lifted, there are many other regulatory bodies and authorities that will put forth various restrictions for the sake of public health. Whether imposed by federal, state, or local governments, or tailored to a particular industry that has specific requirements for their operations, it is critical that these directives are followed to the letter. In the current situation, this becomes especially important in terms of the standards assigned by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC). Make sure you take the time to check for additional requirements applicable to your business’ industry, in addition to what applies to all businesses. Compliance to ADA Rules Many workplaces may consider testing for COVID-19 before allowing access to a business’ premises by anyone, which itself will require a few decisions to be made (how these tests are administered, who administers them, and the type of test to be used) and for these results to be protected as medical information. The Americans with Disabilities Act and other assorted state laws also outline that these tests are only permitted if there is doubt that an employee can perform their job without posing a threat to themselves or their coworkers. While this standard was deemed to have been met by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, any updates could potentially change whether or not this screening is allowed. Check with your legal counsel before proceeding with these protocols. Office Cleanliness From your workplace to the employees to work there, you need to do everything you can to encourage a cleaner and healthier environment. Provide a few reminders pertaining to basic hygiene practices around the workplace, and make sure that it is cleaned and disinfected properly. Keeping the HVAC systems well-maintained and the office well ventilated also helps. Social Distancing Adoption Of course, we can’t discuss mitigating COVID-19 without bringing up social distancing. While many businesses are notorious for their close-quarter layouts, shared resources, and even their displays of etiquette, these need to be adjusted to maintain the recommended six feet (or more) of distance between people. Stagger shifts and enable telework, put up barriers and mark off boundaries, and discourage in-person meetings. Safety Protocols and Precautions It will also be necessary for you to put new rules and procedures in place to better ensure that your workplace is contributing as little risk as possible for your employees. This means that you will need to assign someone the responsibility of overseeing that all workplace processes are compliant with safety regulations. You will also need to be prepared to provide as many protections as possible for your employees, handle your staff and their potential absences in accordance with the law, and (as we’ll cover below) properly deal with an […]

Tip of the Week: Sanitize Your Computer

With all things considered, the office is as close to a perfect environment for bacteria and viruses as any. Let’s face it, lots of people plus lots of surfaces plus a small area equals plenty of potential for an illness to spread. Just take a look at how common bacteria is on average office surfaces and items: Office phone – 25,000 varieties Keyboard – 3,000 varieties per square inch Computer mouse – 1,500+ varieties per square inch Toilet – <300 per square inch So it is safe to say that, even under normal circumstances, keeping the office clean should be a priority. How to Reduce the Viruses in Your Office Unfortunately, removing viruses is going to be a little more complicated than just dumping hand sanitizer on everything. Here, we’ve compiled a few practices to help you keep your office more sanitary. Typical Cleaning The first step is to keep the office as generally clean as possible. Use soap and water to clean most surfaces, and maintain your floors with regular sweeping and mopping. Your computers and other pieces of infrastructure, on the other hand, will need more of a specialized clean. *Disinfecting* Wipes When wiping down high-traffic surfaces, you will want to make sure that you are using the proper wipes for the job. Make sure what you are using is labelled as a “disinfecting” wipe that is meant to kill viruses. Use these wipes to clean off regularly touched things: door handles, light switches, chairs, phones, and your mouse and keyboards. Don’t forget about other items in the office that will likely see lots of activity, like a staff refrigerator, coffee machine, and microwave, or an in-office vending machine. Make sure all of these are also cleaned and sterilized properly. Encourage Hygiene Good hygiene is probably the most important step in keeping safe against possible contamination. You will want to press your people to wash their hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, sanitize their immediate area with wipes, frequently use hand sanitizer, and to not touch their faces. As businesses reopen it will be imperative to keep people who are feeling ill from coming into work. Many businesses have been using remote strategies, so extending those strategies to your under-the-weather staff might be a good plan. With COVID-19 making us all change the way we do things, more people are apt to take cleanliness seriously. Obviously, nobody wants to get sick, but until COVID-19 has a vaccine it’s going to be our responsibility to keep the people closest to us, whether that is our families, friends, or contemporaries from catching the novel virus. What has your company done to mitigate the chances of getting COVID-19? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below and be sure to do what you can to stay safe.