Fear, gossip, and misinformation about the Coronavirus are spreading faster than the actual virus. And while it is never a good time to panic, there are some simple things you can do now to protect you and your business.
A comprehensive crisis plan for your company will not only give you direction and grounding in a time of chaos, but it might also lead you to procedures that could keep your team healthier.
Sick Day Policy for Employers
Your company’s sick time policy is likely sufficient as it is. But, if a wide-spread illness does become a reality, you may need to make some adjustments. Currently, as an employer, you are not entitled to know the exact details or diagnosis of an employee who calls in sick. You can request a note from a physician’s office verifying that your employee is not able to work, but the reasons are not required. You also have an obligation to your entire organization to take reasonable steps to keep your workplace safe. Treading the line between the privacy of one and the safety of others can tricky. Seek advice if you are not sure how much you can ask about illness, especially as concerns and fears grow. You will be best suited to make your employees understand that if they are ill and/or contagious, they don’t belong in the office.
Privacy and Safety for Employees
Employees, the bottom line here is clear: you should NOT come to work if you are ill. And, while you don’t have to disclose your symptoms or specific diagnosis, you may want to if it could be a risk for others in your office. Yes, your privacy matters. But the health and safety of others are important too. In this case, you might consider voluntarily disclosing some details to your employer in this circumstance.
Remote Working Options
At this stage, many large companies have started holding “continuity tests.” A continuity test is where they ask some or all employees to stay home so they can test the efficiency of their telecommuting options. Realistic and viable remote working options could be a key piece in keeping your team productive and healthy.
A remote working option doesn’t mean “work even when you are sick,” it means that your company takes advantage of opportunities to stem the spread of illness. Your team’s ability to function while not in the same space could be critical in a crisis.
Over the last few weeks, many major companies have limited or even banned travel for work while the details of the Coronavirus come into focus. In this situation – where we don’t know everything, and we are still learning – it is not a terrible idea to limit your employees’ travel as it could curb your entire team’s exposure to germs and viruses.
Having your entire team together is fantastic for team building, culture growing, and germ spreading. It sounds anti-culture, but it might be wise to limit all-company functions for now. While you can’t isolate each member of your team, you can be smarter with teleconferencing and phone calls instead of meetings. We can’t replace face-to-face meetings totally, but for now, until we know, more this might be the right solution.
Common Sense is the Best Medicine
Again, we don’t know all the facts, and until we do, we should all engage in some commonsense practices like handwashing, covering our mouths with sneezes and coughs, and other preventative measures. Common sense also dictates that we rely on accurate and relevant information. Be cautious where you get information. The World Health Organization is a great place to start. Seeking out your local (state, city, county) source is also a good step.
More great resources can be found here:
Whether Coronavirus is a real epidemic or an “infodemic” is still unclear, but we can protect ourselves and still be productive. Spend time now putting your crisis plan together, and you’ll be better off when and if the time comes it put it into action.
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