There’s a reason why #Coronavirus has been trending for most of 2020. There’s a lot of anxiety around COVID-19, and the effects on the national and global market are already being felt. As the situation develops, your business likely needs to keep working.
Let us quickly debunk some of the anxiety around COVID-19 and share how your business can prepare for the aftermath with a People First mentality.
Encourage Remote Working
If your team is worried about illness, they’re not going to be productive. Many businesses are allowing their teams to work from home, or are in the process of considering that option.
Remote working is already the most popular that it has ever been — research shows that the number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005, and 86% of people feel that working remotely reduces stress. What’s more, telecommuting in 2015 saved employers $44 billion in total.
The benefits are tangible, even when you’re not in the middle of a pandemic. Your employees will feel valued, less stressed, and will save costs of traveling and precautionary measures. Your business will save money from reduced overhead costs, but more importantly, it will save the resource of time spent on worrying.
Use tools like Slack or G-chat for communication and Google Hangouts or Zoom for video conferencing. Texting and emailing makes it increasingly easy to keep your team in touch.
At TTI SI, we offer virtual debriefs of our assessments. Cassandra Nelson, one of our Solutions Consultants, says that while digital debriefing isn’t her preferred method of communication, “If I can see their face, it feels just as authentic as an in-person conversation. Remote work isn’t my preferred style because I enjoy the social interaction — I’m fueled by it. I wouldn’t be as productive for the long term working at home, but my work is set up in a way in which I can still perform.”
While our team works out of an in-house office in Scottsdale, Arizona, TTI SI has several team members who work remotely. Cassandra isn’t one of them, but in the event of an emergency, our team could adjust. That flexibility is important to everyone at TTI SI.
Allow Extra Sick Time
We know not every business is able to change their policies, but we encourage flexibility whenever possible for employees.
COVID-19 is highly contagious. “The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person,” says the Center for Disease Control. “[It’s spread] between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.” It can also be spread through touching shared surfaces.
In a workplace, shared surfaces are unavoidable. If your employees are worried about using their PTO (or worse yet, don’t have PTO), they’re going to come in. If they’re worried about jeopardizing their job, they can’t worry about jeopardizing the health of their coworkers.
You need to put people first! Your team needs to feel safe and secure in their job, and be able to take time to heal. If you don’t help them feel safe, you’re putting the health of your entire team at risk.
Being flexible in this uncertain time shows your team that they are a priority, and that goes a long way to cultivate loyalty and improve company culture.
Keep It Clean
The best way to combat Coronavirus is to disinfect!
You think this would be common sense, but it bears repeating: wash your hands! Even though hand washing is the #1 way to prevent Coronavirus, the USDA shared in a recent study that 97% of people don’t wash their hands correctly, with the common mistake being not washing long enough. The LA Times shared a handy reminder: sing the chorus of those popular songs while washing your hands to effectively kill germs. (My personal favorite is Jolene by Dolly Parton!)
If your office has a kitchen, limit food sharing. Communal snacks should be limited to pre-packaged goods, and try stocking up on cleaning supplies for individual desks. Encourage your employees to disinfect their phones, as well!
Be Smart While Traveling
While travel is being cancelled all around the world, a lot of businesses don’t have the luxury of shutting down. If you can’t offer remote work, your employees also are dealing with their commutes.
You probably know that facemasks are selling out across the country— but you might not know that wearing a mask is not effective to prevent contracting COVID-19. In fact, the CDC recommends that healthy people stop buying masks, since the shortage is causing a huge problem for healthcare professionals.
While traveling, especially in compact spaces like planes, trains, or subways, avoid touching shared surfaces. Quickly disinfect locations you will handle, like a tray table or handle, and use your sleeve to open doors. When you arrive at your location or get off of a plane, try change into fresh clothes as soon as possible.
If you have to cough, cough into your inner elbow to avoid transmission from hands to other surfaces.
Put People First to Fight Coronavirus
The newness of Coronavirus makes it particularly scary, but you don’t have to be caught off guard! Your business can combat the effects and prevent worsening problems by simply putting people first.
Make sure your team feels heard, give them flexibility, allow adequate time for healing and health, and encourage cleanliness. Beyond preparing for Coronavirus, these precautions have the added benefit of improving your company culture.
While the global conversation might be different, and the economic effects of the virus are yet to be fully realized, the conversation in your business can be one of preparedness and not one of panic.