As Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads globally, more and more businesses are taking significant steps in response to growing concerns. Companies relying on China-based employees will see production shortages, those relying on products from China will be greatly impacted. Companies who’s businesses rely on public in -person attendance are also being impacted already in anticipation of the summer ahead.
What about our US workplaces? What measures are being taken to protect employees while limiting the strain on businesses?
- Salesforce, Amazon, and Twitter restricted all non-essential employee travel while Nike and Google imposed partial restrictions.
- Facebook, Square and Stripe are limiting visitors to their HQs and requiring video interviews instead of on-site visits.
What should you do to proactively safe-guard your staff and your business?
Review Your Sick Policy
The Center for Disease Control Prevention advises that employees should stay home if they have respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath) and/or a temperature above 100.4 F. They should also leave work if they develop these symptoms while at the office.
Sick policy for most small or mid-sized companies apply the statutory requirement of one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked in an accrual method. Others front-load sick time at the beginning of calendar year. Some organizations, like PMsquare, created an additional benefit allowing for sick days that do not count as paid time off in response to COVID-19. Having access to an impactful sick policy will discourage sick workers to arrive at the office.
Many companies are reconsidering their remote work policies in preparation for what may come if the virus is widespread or prolonged. If you’re creating a new policy, consider the following factors:
- Eligibility – due to nature of some businesses and/or job functions, not everyone may be suited to work from home.
- Equipment and supplies – do your employees have the necessary hardware to perform their essential duties away from the office.
- An approval process – a clear guideline on how employees may request to work remotely and who approves this.
- Access – work with your IT department so staff have access to files and documents. Check if a VPN (virtual private network) is required or if files are accessible via the cloud.
- Collaboration – this should proceed as if teams are working side by side at the office. Look into communication tools like Slack, Zoom, Gchat.
If your company does not normally have a remote work policy and you’re implementing it now, let your staff know that this is temporary and will have an end period.
There is no such thing as over-communication. Inform your staff of any changes or updates to your existing policies. Remind staff of your other policies; zero tolerance for harassment and bullying or racist incidents. Have weekly communication in place, via email or video conferences regarding how you, as an employer, have a plan in place for your employees.
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