Now What - The New Normal in the Office
How to stay open during the COVID pandemic
A recent office meme reads, “Thanks to whoever brought the Plague to the office. Donuts would have been fine,” (cheezburger.com). While the message is humorous, for those business owners and employees who have dealt with the effects of viral sickness such as COVID-19, the reality is sobering.
According to a recent survey by Accountemps, a Robert Half company, there are startling statistics regarding the numbers of employees who report to work during illness. The following information presents a telling picture of how widespread the issue is among businesses:
Nine in 10 employees admit going to work sick.
One third of employees always go to the office with cold or flu symptoms.
54% of workers attribute workload pressures for attendance at the office while sick
40% do not want to use up sick pay
34% say they feel pressure from the employer
25% of workers come to work sick because co-workers also come to work sick (shrm.org)
So, with the data and experiential background of workers attending work while experiencing illness, the challenge for business owners is how to protect the entire staff from highly volatile virus situations such as the COVID pandemic. For some leaders, changes in scheduling and office protocol will suffice. But for others, this may mean a complete restructure of the business setting so that all personnel are assured of safe practices to prevent spread of illness.
If you are able to utilize the facilities your office staff currently works from, you may want to think about some procedural changes to expedite better social distancing and more effective preventive measures for germ spread such as:
Providing hand sanitizers throughout the facility
Implementing regular cleaning and sanitation of the facilities
Discouraging congregating in groups for discussion and collaboration and encouraging video chat and conference calling for interpersonal communication.
Limiting or eliminating common areas all together, or staggering break/lunch times to avoid large groups in a single area at one time
Limiting the number of guests to the facility
Rescheduling meetings or events to allow for recovery times
This is just a partial list, but may help you get the conversation started with company owners or decision makers about the best way to prepare and maintain office facilities to prevent or alleviate some of the dangers of working closely together during times of viral spread.
For larger work communities, some employers may find it necessary to make temporary changes to the overall work structure. Several large organizations have set up work-from-home scenarios for large numbers of employees simply to avoid company-wide exposure that could shut down the entire operations of an organization. If you would be faced with this type of change, there are some aspects of risk that should be considered:
Do all employees have access to internet services that meet the demands of your management systems? This may be a requirement that could determine if a home office is viable.
Do all employees have an area that can be designated strictly to work activities? This is important in maintaining continuity and consistency in meeting work demands.
Does the organization’s business liability coverage make provision for operations away for your premises? You will want to discuss the boundaries and limitations of your coverage with your insurance agent so he or she can make changes to your insurance coverage as necessary.
How does your workers compensation policy respond to having workers at home? Are there safety guidelines that must be met? Do you need to report each location as a location for coverage or does your policy extend to all locations? Again, a conversation with your insurance agent would be helpful in determining what changes you may need to make to your policy.
As an entrepreneur, one of your greatest assets is your team and in times of illness or infectious diseases your top priority should be to maintain your business while also protecting your staff. Having an illness shut down your operations can cost you in time and money and even community reputation, so it is imperative to develop a policy and procedure in house that pertains to all employees. Open communication, regular wellness checks, and consistency in employee relations are some aspects of being sure you are successful in keeping yourself, your staff, and your clients healthy in your place of business.
Call our office today, if we can be of assistance in guiding your business insurance decisions.