After months of restrictions that were meant to help flatten the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic, many states are allowing businesses to reopen. While employees are returning to work, it still will not be business as usual. Both businesses and employees will be encountering a new work landscape that could be the new normal for years to come.
Protecting Workers from COVID-19
The World Health Organization estimates that it could take five years before business returns to “normal.” This means that businesses will have to do their part to protect both workers and guests. It is important to be flexible about work arrangements and try to incorporate teleworking when possible to ensure that employees can work from home. Another way to limit contact is introducing staggering shifts in which fewer employees are on site at one time. Finally, a thorough cleaning routine is essential to preventing the spread of disease. Pay special attention to high-touch surfaces such as workstations, door knobs, handrails and countertops.
Encourage Hand Washing
From what we have learned, hand washing is an essential tool in the fight against COVID-19. If hand washing is not possible, then hand sanitizer can also help prevent the spreading of the virus. However, sanitizer is only effective if it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. There are alcohol-free products that are being marketed as “coronavirus hand sanitizers,” so be sure to read the ingredient list.
Consider Providing Masks and Gloves
Businesses are already under financial strain and may not want to take on the extra cost of providing personal protection. However, providing masks and gloves is a good way to help ease employees’ fears about returning to work and help customers feel safe about interacting with the business. If you are not going to provide masks and gloves, be sure to communicate this to employees so that they can take steps to acquire these items should they need to.
Will Workers Want to Return?
In some cases, workers may not want to return to work and businesses will have to find new hires. Federal unemployment payments are $600 a week, which is more than some workers make at their jobs. This could keep them at home until their benefits expire.
In addition, some employees are scared about contracting the virus and bringing it home to their families. This may be especially true of employees who fall into the “high risk” category. In some states like Florida, businesses are not legally obligated to provide protection measures for workers. This is an issue as workers will not be eligible for unemployment if they do not return to work due to safety concerns. Florida is a right-to-work-state, which means that employers have the right to terminate employees for any reason outside of discrimination. This could create complications for those who are scared to return to work.
The best way to alleviate fear and ensure that employees feel safe is to put protections in place and clearly communicate new policies to employees. Even if businesses are not legally obligated to provide protections, taking precautions makes good business sense. It may also be key to ensuring that businesses can remain open.
Businesses, as we knew them before COVID-19, may never exist again. Both employees and businesses will need to adjust to a new normal that could involve more remote working and extra safety precautions for years to come. Making changes now and creating clear policies can help make reopening safer and more successful.
What should businesses do during the coronavirus disease pandemic?
Be as flexible as possible when it comes to work arrangements. Consider teleworking or staggering shifts to limit contact. Also, create a cleaning routine that disinfects all high-touch areas, including workstations, handrails, door knobs and countertops. Discourage employees from sharing equipment and tools.
When will businesses return to normal?
The World Health Organization is estimating that it will take up to 5 years before business returns to “normal.” One way to stay updated and connected with all things happening in the small business community is to listen to podcasts. There are several inspiring and industry-specific podcasts that can help you sharpen your professional knowledge in this new landscape.
Will workers return if they are making more on unemployment?
There is some fear that workers will not want to return if they are earning more through unemployment, but these benefits are scheduled to end. In addition, workers may not want to return because they are worried about catching the virus and bringing it back home to their employees.
Does hand sanitizer kill the coronavirus disease?
Yes, but it must contain at least 60 percent alcohol. There are alcohol-free products on the market, so be sure that you are purchasing the right sanitizer.