Social distancing, now » Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is spreading rapidly and wreaking havoc. As the situation evolves, here is what business leaders can do to combat the spread and protect their employees and their businesses.
- Prioritize employee health
- Switch to remote work now
- Practice social distancing and good hygiene
- Encourage employees to stay healthy and exercise at home
- Last but not least, communicate openly and often
Prioritize employee health
Keeping employees healthy is always good for your business. As the pandemic evolves, work to ensure they are safe and well.
Look to experts in your community for health and safety best practices—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide helpful guidelines as well as updates on the situation. Talk to fellow business leaders (within and outside your org) or industry groups to learn how they are managing this crisis. Also, involve employees in developing your action plan so they can identify gaps ahead of time.
At Flock, we started with awareness campaigns within our offices—we put up posters on symptoms and prevention, installed more hand sanitizers, and cut down on business travel—and now we’ve progressed to working remotely for the foreseeable future.
Switch to remote work now
If your business can work from home, hit the button now to go remote. Sure, the ride will be bumpy—but we can help manage that. Trust us, your employees will be safer within their homes and still be as productive (if not more so) as they were in the office.
Not all businesses can go 100% remote, but at least some of your employees can work remotely. Start by identifying business functions and job roles that are telecommute-friendly and help employees make the switch immediately. We’ve put together some great tips to help your newly remote employees stay healthy and productive as they work from home.
Explore whether you can establish flexible work policies, or adopt staggered work hours to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Plus, it’s better to do it now than wait for your local government to implement shelter in place laws. Social distancing is key to arresting the spread of infectious diseases—and experts say it will help flatten the curve.
Practice social distancing and good hygiene
It goes without saying that you should practice social distancing as much as possible. Connect via video conferencing to avoid in-person group meetings. Once again, talk to the local community and pool together best practices to ensure everyone stays safe.
Hygiene is always important. Saying “wash your hands” or “don’t touch your face” might sound like preaching to the choir—do it anyway. If your business continues to operate from an office, lead by example and create an awareness campaign for employees. This can include but should not be limited to putting up posters with health and safety tips, installing extra hand sanitizers, and increasing how frequently the office is sanitized.
Encourage employees to stay healthy and exercise at home
Even when you make the switch to working remotely, it doesn’t hurt to repeat health and safety advice. It’s not like our homes are always spotless and clean, so washing our hands and wiping down tabletops and surfaces a few more times a day can keep infections away. Remember, this is not exactly the normal work-from-home routine—staying indoors is highly recommended (if not mandatory in many cities already) and staying healthy is not going to be easy, especially when cabin fever strikes.
Encourage employees to stay active and exercise every day. It doesn’t always have to be boring advice on taking breaks and moving around—try sharing these tips on exercising in quarantine or just ask folks to do more crunches and push-ups. For small teams, you can even turn it into a group activity: Get on a group video call with everyone and practice calisthenics or yoga or just meditate together for 15 minutes!
Last but not least, communicate openly and often
It’s an uncertain time for everyone, and we all have questions. Whether your business works remotely or not, it’s crucial that you communicate openly and often about what you are doing to ensure employee safety. Employees new to working from home will have questions, so make it easier for them to ask by implementing business communication tools (try Flock!) and creating spaces for discussion.
At Flock, we are doing this by creating a feedback loop—sharing updates, answering questions, and soliciting suggestions in team channels. You want an environment where every employee is contributing, not just the loud extroverts amongst your team. It’s not always easy, but having open communication channels and defaulting to transparency helps build trust within your team. Better-informed employees are more engaged and productive as they battle all the distractions of working from home.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a reality-shift for businesses and employees alike, and we’re all adapting to it as rapidly as we can. As a business leader, start by helping your employees stay healthy and engaged. Who knows, productivity might go up, too.