The government, NHS and World Health Organisation (WHO) are giving sterling advice but some business owners, boards, CEOs and exec teams may still seek leadership for how to protect their businesses and teams.
Firstly, let me reiterate what I’ve been saying for weeks – only listen to health advice from trusted sources such as government, NHS and WHO. There is too much fake news out there and too much scaremongering, some caused by the media.
You’ll all know some of the basic recommendations such as working from home and cancelling non-essential travel, but I’ve made a list of suggestions in case you’re stuck on what to do with your business and staff to limit the number of people exposed to and who may contract COVID-19.
In the office
- Clear signs of leadership and a calm approach
- Signage and provision of products for basic hygiene such as hand washing and tissues, plus bins for hygienic disposal
- Perform deep cleaning – my friend’s company Microshield is inundated with businesses who are booking deep cleans to ensure maximum health and hygiene
- Regular cleaning of door knobs and work surfaces, keyboards, phones etc – provision of anti-mac wipes would be useful
- Procedures/information to staff about symptoms and what to do if they have any – you must be certain of the information you give, clear on what to do and repeat it often so staff know
- Keep staff up-to-date on the situation and the measures being taken and where possible, explain why
- Consider doing more online meetings than face-to-face and whether or not events can be postponed, held online or refunded
- Ensure contractors and other people who attend your place of work know your procedures and encourage them to follow directions
- If staff contract the virus, tell them not to come to work and keep communicating with them, even if they only have mild symptoms. This will count as sick leave.
- Should someone present with symptoms, have a dedicated and isolated room/space for them to be held and a plan for how they will be transferred to a health service facility
- Liaise with your healthcare provider and take advice from your health insurance organisation, too
- Consider and plan for any wellbeing challenges in the workplace should someone contract – staff will need leadership and assurance
- Get employees to help inform the plan
- Communicate this plan and test everything, in case there are gaps
- Share learnings and learn from others
- Communicate regularly so staff know you’re on the ball
Self-isolation to prevent any potential risk of catching COVID-19 or if your organisation has made the decision people can work from home
Work from home
- All work and systems should be able to be accessed remotely. For example, my storage and file sharing is in the cloud (Dropbox and Google Drive)If this isn’t possible due to server issues, you will need to consider either shifts for online access or potential use of a bigger server
- Set up WhatsApp or Slack groups for teams to talk and work together
- Set up check-in and check-out procedure, for example a Chinese company has used photo check-in at their home office desks
- What tech is available for staff to take home or what do they have already by way of laptop/PC?
- Timesheets will be important so bosses can ensure everyone is actually working (I use Toggl which is free for one user, but does the job)
- Test your processes and systems before making it formal
- Have daily/regular check-in times with staff on Skype or Zoom and ask for end-of-day reports
- Have guidance booklets for your teams – incl things how to stay focussed, breaks away from screens etc
And although we are far away from knowing the impact of this virus in the UK, we must also start to consider scenarios, risks and make plans for recovery.
1. Split into teams (will vary depending on structure of staffing) and take shifts
2. Rotate the teams
3. Use different locations
This will limit the spread of any potential virus to staff therefore limiting the potential to close the business
Advice and guidance from WHO on COVID-19
If you’d like support with your communication around this serious issue, please do get in touch as soon as possible. You cannot over communicate this and the better prepared you are, the easier it will be manage and recover.