A New Normal For Your Business: Considerations as you prepare for restrictions to (eventually) ease
By Semhar Tekeste and Melissa Lantsman
As health care systems across the country implement mass COVID-19 testing – seen as a critical step in finally containing the deadly virus – policy makers are beginning to prepare for an eventual reopening of businesses, organizations and services.
The governments of Quebec and Saskatchewan have signalled that they are considering a careful, gradual and methodical lifting of restrictions while cautioning that normalcy, as we once knew it, remains a long way off.
Amid some positive signs that Canada’s COVID-19 incidence is beginning to flatten, provincial governments are examining their respective infection data to determine when they might be able to begin the process of rebooting their economies.
It is clear that the pandemic crisis is far from over, but as light appears at the end of the tunnel, organizations of all types can get a head start for the eventual resumption of regular operations.
5 Steps to Ensure that Your Business is Ready
Formalize Health and Safety Directives. Develop a guide that simply and clearly outlines directives for your employees. The document should provide all team members with an understanding of the measures taken by management, as well as the measures expected of employees, to maintain everyone’s health and safety.
Adapt your employees’ work setting. Create a plan that allows employees to practice social distancing while in their workplace, should that continue to be the direction from public health agencies. All workspaces should be stationed at least 6 feet from each other, and employers should strictly limit the size of any inter-office gatherings. All employees should also be provided disinfectant products, while surfaces, equipment and supplies should be cleaned regularly. It will still be important in the short- to medium-term to ensure accommodations for some continued ‘work from home’ policies should government regulations change or personal situations of your employees necessitate it.
Close all Common Areas. Be prepared with a strategy to prevent employees from congregating in work rooms, pantries, copier rooms or other areas where people tend to socialize.
Promote Hygiene Measures. Display posters promoting hand-washing and other safety practices in multiple, high-visibility locations around the work space. Other communication measures, such as offering regular guidance and updates from occupational health and safety officers, should also be considered.
Limit Travel. Unless absolutely necessary, restrict trips outside the office – not just out of town but to in-person meetings. As much as possible, continue to conduct virtual meetings and look for ways to keep your employees away from crowds, such as providing alternatives to public transit.
While it is important that businesses and organizations develop a plan to limit the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces, it will be some time before the threat is eliminated entirely. Given this reality, plan ahead for the unfortunate possibility that one of your employees comes into contact with someone who is infected. Know how you will react – both to get that employee the support they need and to keep everyone else safe and protected.