Since the dawn of the new year, the world has been overwhelmed by the reports of a deadly novel virus, Coronavirus. Businesses are grappling, dealing with potential coronavirus breakout at their workplace. The deteriorating situation makes it important that companies take proactive steps to protect themselves and others and minimize the spread of COVID-19. As a global company with a global workforce, we want to do what we can to help the success of multi-stakeholder containment efforts.
This epidemic is a wake-up call for companies to carefully review the strategies, policies, and procedures they have in place to protect partners, employees, customers, and operations. At this point, the crisis demands unorthodox solutions.
Each coronavirus will vary in the severity of the infection it causes. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, respiratory issues, kidney failure, and sometimes death.
Employers should encourage employees to report if they develop these symptoms and further advise that they call their healthcare provider and let them know about any possible exposure. Companies can help by granting paid time off if they fall ill, or if they need to look after an ailing family member.
According to UNICEF, the virus can live up to 10 minutes on one’s hand.
So what protective measures can be taken at workplaces to prevent it from living and multiplying?
- Hot water and sun exposure kills the virus, hence provide hot water filters and encourage and educate employees to make use of it.
- Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use to employees.
- Supply alcohol-based sanitizers to each employee.
- Distribute the right mask for group meetings and gatherings, preferably N95. In addition, WHO has released other categories of masks too that shall prevent the spread of the virus.
- Suspend overseas travel, especially to countries acutely affected by the virus.
- Routine clean up of all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs.
- Educate employees to maintain social distance: remain away from crowded environments and avoid contact when greeting people.
- Frequent inspection of body temperature, as it is one of the primary symptoms of the virus.
- Review employee paid time off and sick leave policies- Prerequisites like submission of doctor’s note while applying for leave should be deferred.
- Create an emergency fund to support employees for the utmost situation.
- Provide appropriate workspace and increase work-from-home capabilities: Encourage employees to work remotely, opt for teleconference options instead of onsite meetings
Since employees spend most of their time at workplaces, and they have less control over the workplace environment in comparison to their homes, employers and HR managers must take extra caution to prevent the spread of the infection in the workplace.
While it’s a big change, it is the demand of the hour.