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3 Tips on How To Reopen Businesses Safely During a Pandemic

By: Natalie Cheng

Around the world, businesses are taking different approaches to the workplace during the pandemic. Some are reopening offices while others are completely remote. Tech companies like Twitter and Facebook are allowing employees to work from home forever or for an extended period of time. According to Forbes, Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, said, “Seventy-seven percent of the workforce say they want to continue to work from home, at least weekly, when the pandemic is over.” Lister estimates, “Twenty-five to thirty percent of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.” This may work for tech companies and other businesses that are built around remote work, but it’s not going to necessarily work in other industries.

According to the Wall Street Journal, remote work has become a struggle for some companies leading to difficulties in collaboration and struggles in training new employees. Furthermore, remote workers are struggling with balancing their work and personal lives with many getting burnt out. Companies need to ensure that they communicate with their employees on expectations to make sure that they feel trusted, seen, or heard. Unfortunately, many are struggling with that now according to Gallup, “most full-time employees -- nearly eight in 10 -- experience burnout on the job at least sometimes.”

Whether your organization is working remotely, in the office, or a hybrid of the two, companies and managers must account for the wellbeing of all employees. Harvard Business Review published 3 Tips to Avoid WFH Burnout which includes maintaining physical and social boundaries (ex. Putting on work clothes, replace your morning commute with a walk), maintain temporal boundaries (ex. Employees need to find work-time budgets that function best for them), and focus on your most important work (ex. Prioritize important work). Employees must find new ways to carve out non-work time and mental space to avoid burnout.

3 Things To Consider When Reopening Your Business

Whether you’re considering reopening your business or a hybrid approach of allowing employees to work from home part of the time, consider the following:

1. Normal routine cleaning with soap and water removes germs and dirt from surfaces, which lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19

Do you have a plan for reopening your business? Does your business have the capability to adhere to guidelines in order to stay safe? Make sure to evaluate your workspace and determine surfaces, objects, etc. that will need routine cleaning. Also, consider that some surfaces only need to be cleaned with soap and water. (ex. Surfaces and objects that aren’t frequently touched, children’s toys or items that children might put in their mouths) The CDC released a list of some frequently touched surfaces and objects that will need routine disinfection including:

  • tables,
  • doorknobs,
  • light switches,
  • countertops,
  • handles,
  • desks,
  • phones,
  • keyboards,
  • toilets,
  • faucets and sinks,
  • gas pump handles,
  • touch screens, and
  • ATM machines

According to NIH researchers, the virus that causes COVID-19 can live up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 3 days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces. Depending on your industry, facility, or business, you’ll have different surfaces and objects that many people touch. Make sure to properly disinfect the surfaces and objects that pertain to your specific business or workspace.

2. Practice social distancing, wear face coverings, and follow proper prevention hygiene (Ex. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) when soap and water aren’t available)

According to the Mayo Clinic and various other sources, COVID-19 “spreads from person to person in respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, or talks.” This is in addition, to COVID-19 being spread through touching surfaces with the virus on it. If you’re still skeptical about masks, consider this chart from the BMJ which explains how masks or face coverings can protect you from COVID-19:

COVID-masks.png

Credit: https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3223

Make sure that desks and tables are spaced apart and that employees wear face coverings. Office furniture and tables may need to be rearranged to accommodate these regulations.

3. Most commonly used peripheral thermometers don’t accurately estimate body temperature.

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, they found that “most commonly used peripheral thermometers do not accurately estimate body temperature. This was most evident for temperatures that may affect patient diagnosis, management, and outcomes (that is, fever and hypothermia).” To better mitigate risk for your business, consider a syndromic surveillance tool where employees and visitors can record their symptoms to figure out if they should be showing up to the workplace or not. Keep in mind that the tool must follow HIPAA and ADA guidelines to lower the risk and liability to your workplace. (See bonus tip #4 for more info)

Although some people may not show symptoms, the CDC and OSHA highly recommend daily health checks or screening for employees coming into work. After 6 months of studying COVID-19, we are now able to better understand the early symptoms of COVID. Small businesses to large enterprises across different verticals are being closed, fined, faced with liability lawsuits, or worse, experiencing employee deaths. Because of this, many businesses are being proactive and following these CDC/OSHA recommendations and screening employees for symptoms before coming into work. You can either come up with your own internal process of doing this or look for an outside tool that has figured this out.

Shameless plug: that’s just what we do at Luminare. We’re here to take on the liability and help your business open safely while following these CDC and OSHA recommendations. If you’d like a no pressure demo of our COVID-19 screening tool, Quickscreen, just reach out to our team! If you don’t sign up, you’ll at least learn something new about how to keep your workplace safe and open. 😊

About Quickscreen by Luminare

Quickscreen by Luminare is the country’s first employee self-certification system. It is an innovative COVID-19 screening tool to get your employees back to work safely. The syndromic surveillance tool is HIPAA and ADA compliant and follows OSHA and CDC guidelines. In addition, the tool is approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Quickscreen can be accessed on smartphone, desktop, or tablet.

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