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Protect your employees from COVID-19 with these 5 tips

The pandemic forced many workplaces to close their doors, however millions of others remain open. These workplaces have no choice but to figure out how to keep business moving while keeping employees safe. As more workplaces look to reopen, there’s much we can learn from these companies’ experiences. 

Zillow, Samsara, Deluxe Entertainment, and 23andMe are just a few of those companies with workplaces open. Although most admit they’re still learning, there is much that workplace teams can learn from their successes and failures. As you plan your reopening, take note of these industry leaders’ tips on protecting your employees from COVID-19.

Survey employees to understand their concerns about returning

The first step to protecting your employees from Coronavirus is understanding how they feel about returning to the workplace. Almost everyone we spoke with—including Envoy’s People team—said surveying employees is critical. A survey can help you identify problems to address and build trust with employees who are wary about returning.

Ask employees what their top concerns are about returning. Make this question open-ended to ensure you’re capturing the full spectrum of anxieties. Employees may worry about something that’s not on your radar, like their commute to work or their co-workers’ willingness to wear masks. Employees’ responses can help you spot potential points of exposure and changes that can make your employees safer.

Also ask employees what they need to be comfortable in the workplace. You will get a feel for your employees’ openness to different solutions. For example, your employees may want to complete a health screening. Or, you may find out they want more or free parking so they can drive instead of taking public transit.

Ensure your temperature check process is accurate and efficient

Another way to protect your employees from COVID-19 is by checking their temperatures before they come to work. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that employees stay home if their temperature is above 100.4° F.

Deluxe Entertainment checks everyone’s temperature before they enter the company’s offices. George Llano, Chief Information Security Officer at Deluxe, has two tips to make this a speedy and accurate process.

First, confirm and confirm again that your temperature check devices are accurate. George says, “There should be a test every day, several times a day, to check the accuracy of those devices. Sometimes people assume these devices will always be accurate, but it’s always great that you’ve gone through the extra step of validating that these devices are measuring an accurate temperature.” If you find that a device is inaccurate, keep extras on hand, so you always have a way to measure temperatures.

Second, ensure you have enough staff and devices to check everyone’s temperatures. George notes, “We’ve set up additional temperature checkers to make sure the line for the temperature checking isn’t too long.” Deluxe also gives employees a decal showing that they’ve completed the check. That way, they can grab lunch and come back without needing to wait in line again.

Have employees certify they’re healthy before they come to the workplace

Checking temperatures is one way to protect employees from contracting COVID-19 at work. That said, the team at 23andMe decided against on-site screening. Instead, they opted to screen employees from the comfort of their homes. This is in line with the CDC’s recommendation that employees self-screen before they come on-site.

In the words of Jason Lester, Director of Workplace of 23andMe, “It doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re symptomatic to come in to do a screening on-site. All that’s going to do is expose more people to a possible virus.” 

To avoid this scenario, 23andMe has employees complete a health questionnaire before they commute in. If an employee reports they have specific symptoms, they’re instantly told to stay at home. Healthy employees receive a confirmation that they’re welcome in the office to show to security upon arrival.

By having employees certify they’re healthy in advance, 23andMe ensures only healthy people come to the office to begin. Letting employees check themselves also builds trust.

Implement cleaning schedules and stock up on cleaning supplies

One of the best ways to protect employees from COVID-19 is by keeping the office and its many surfaces clean. To meet this higher standard of cleanliness, Nicole Persaud, Head of Safety and Security at Samsara, recommends having cleaning schedules, increasing janitorial staff, and ordering plenty of cleaning supplies.

Nicole mentions that, at Samsara, “Common areas, rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, handles, doors, and tablets, are all cleaned hourly and individual workstations are cleaned at night.” To accommodate the new cleaning schedule, Nicole included ample cleaning supplies in Samsara’s criteria for reopening. She explains, “We had markers like we can’t open if we don’t have the minimum cleaning supplies.” 

Cleaning is critical to minimizing the spread of germs. Prepare by thinking through what, when, where, and how you’ll keep the office disinfected. 

Have a plan of action if an employee gets sick

Despite your best efforts, there is still a chance that an employee in your workplace tests positive for COVID. If this situation arises, you need to react quickly to minimize the spread and support your sick employee.

Experience and research both show that the vast majority of us have gone to work sick. That’s why the first step in Zillow’s contact tracing program is encouraging employees to self-report. 

A swift response is critical to ensure sick employees stay home and don’t infect others. Casey Denton, Assistant Facilities Manager, explains that, at Zillow, “If you’re sick then you will get a notification from our ticketing system that says ‘Please stay home.’” Zillow also wants sick employees to feel supported, so they send employees information about resources available to them. This includes, in Casey’s words, “links to benefits they can use, places they can call, and contacts within the HR department.”

To find out who may have been exposed, Casey and the team rely on their visitor management system and space management tools. These systems let them see who else was in the office at the same time as the sick employee.

There is plenty more to learn about how to protect employees from Coronavirus as more of us return to the workplace. Each month, we host industry professionals for a live discussion of their reopening strategies. Join us for our next discussion with Github, Clorox, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts to hear how they’re returning to the workplace. Register here.  

Envoy can help you protect your employees from COVID-19. Start using Envoy today to create a safe and healthy workplace.