What post-COVID-19 vigilance should look like
The COVID-19 pandemic changed workplace operations dramatically. Public safety is the number one priority and while vaccinations help contain the virus from spreading, it is not a clear signal to business owners and management that the pandemic is over.
The reason for this is that while there may be a low risk for community transmission, if a flare-up of COVID-19 occurs in your workplace, it poses a dangerously high risk to your organization's revenue and ability to operate.
Best practices for post-COVID-19 operations
It is important to have standard operating procedures (SOP) in place to mitigate any risk of workers contracting the virus at work. Here are some best practices on safely operating post-COVID-19:
- Clear instructions regarding public and internal principles. What can/can't the organization control and focus on what you can—employee safety, a corporate culture of safety excellence, and an employee experience that's positive.
- Dial-in on local implementation of the layers of protection like sanitization, social distancing, and mask-wearing while ensuring frequent and transparent communications to re-enforce this policy directly from the top leadership levels. Leaders of organizations should not exempt themselves from the same rules they are placing on staff; this will create a negative feedback loop that will end with staff not adhering to the policy.
- Detail how the organization will respond to a team member who contracts the COVID-19. For example, how will you detect this before a positive test (I.E. symptom questionnaire)? Will that team member feel supported to tell the truth on volunteering this information, or will they feel scared to lose their job? That psychological safety needs to be there. When they report positive symptoms, what should they do? Do you have a work from home policy? Do they get paid sick leave? Direct them to know what to do if they are not well enough to work with others. Enable them to continue tracking their symptoms even after they start isolating or working alone so that you have a track record of risk. We can't control the external environment, so we need to focus on what we can and mitigate risk where we can't.
- There should also be clear direction given for when it is safe to re-enter the workplace. If they just had a cold and a negative test, should they return to work? How will they know to make that decision?
If your organization can confidently respond to all of the above, then you are well on your way to continue operating in a post-COVID-19 world. Stay resilient and vigilant because as we let our guard down, COVID will step in.
You may be struggling with COVID-19 employee self-assessments or questionnaires as required for compliance in most states. It's difficult to determine a proper best practice between local, municipal, state, and federal guidelines!
If you're collecting information manually or without immediate symptom notifications, there's a much better way.