8 Steps to make your business COVID secure
Health and safety protocols have always been an essential part of any business. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have presented a new set of challenges that businesses have to consider, such as the emergence of new variants, increased rates of infections and low vaccination rates.
Many people are also suffering from COVID fatigue, due to living in a pandemic for over a year and dealing with the stress caused by the uncertainty. Nonetheless, there is no room for complacency, and we still need to remain vigilant and intentional in our actions.
To continue to operate successfully in the ‘new normal’, business owners have a responsibility to follow the necessary steps to ensure that their staff, customers and communities remain safe. Here’s a simple guide to managing COVID protocols in your business:
- Start with a risk-assessment: in order for you to protect your employees, you need to identify all the possible risks. Start by asking basic questions such as how many employees do you have? Do they work in separate offices or an open-plan setting? How many shared spaces are there in the office and are these spaces big enough to accommodate the social distancing protocols? The assessment is the first step in developing a plan that outlines the specific protective measures that you need to implement in your business.
- Make sure your workplace is cleaned regularly: while this may seem obvious, it is worth stating. Being in a pandemic means we have to think about hygiene more than before. Contamination on surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads, so make sure that you regularly wipe all surfaces with disinfectant.
- Hang informative posters up in the workplace: depending on the type and size of business you run, communicating the necessary protocols can be as simple as sending a detailed email. Nonetheless, consider putting up informative posters around the workplace to remind people of the new protocols that have been put in place.
- Introduce social distancing measures: where possible, you should try to keep people 2m apart. This may involve rearranging the seating plan to create more space between people. Alternatively, you could also use tape to mark the floors or signage to remind people how far apart to stand.
- Consider introducing a roster: rather than have all your employees come into the office every day, a roster could ensure that there is a limited number of people each day and make the environment safer for all. You can split employees into groups and have the groups come into the office on different days.
- Introducing virtual engagement: if it’s possible for your employees to perform their work responsibilities while working from home, encourage them to do so. There are many collaboration tools that have emerged since the outbreak of the pandemic.
- Promote regular handwashing and sanitising by employees: make sure that you have hand sanitiser available as soon as people enter the premises. Also, provide supplies for employees to disinfect surfaces when necessary and make sure that everyone has access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.
- Monitor the ventilation: it is essential to make sure there’s an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace. Where possible, keep windows open or use a fan or air duct to bring in fresh air from outside.
- Encourage consistent, open communication with employees: create the type of environment where employees feel comfortable and empowered enough to make informed decisions. If someone is feeling sick, they should know that it is okay (and preferred) that they work from home. If one has to rely on public transport to get to work, perhaps see whether there is a possibility for the company to arrange a safer alternative for them. Your employees are the backbone of your business, and they should always feel safe.
Adapting to the ‘new normal’ while running a successful business is challenging, but not impossible. We should all always remember the importance of personal responsibility and know that we all have a role to play to curb the spread of COVID-19. By ensuring that we follow the necessary protocols, both in and out of the workplace, we can keep the economy growing while ensuring that our families, friends, colleagues and communities remain safe.