A lot of changes have happened because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and none have been felt more intensely than those at the office.
Workplaces have twisted themselves in knots trying to find a way to deal with the virus, and many places are finding their own version of normal as offices open up. COVID is the big problem on most people’s minds, but they don’t realize that this is only one of many current virus outbreaks.
What happens when flu season starts to get intense and people in the office fall ill? Do you know what to do when someone brings the latest stomach bug home from their child’s elementary school? Virus outbreaks are no joke, and that’s especially true in the post-COVID age. If you want to know how to handle a deadly virus outbreak, make sure you follow the advice in this post to keep your employees and business safe.
Get Your Policy Straight
There are some rules that workplaces are legally obligated to follow due to HIPAA and other laws. Although there are some legal standards that need to be met when you’re dealing with COVID-19 or a different virus outbreak, policies can differ vastly from workplace to workplace. How quickly do you inform employees?
Do you only tell team members or others that work closely with them, or is this going to be an office-wide announcement? Are people expected to take time off, work from home, or a combination of the two? These are all important questions to answer, and the last thing you’ll want to do is figure these things out when you’re in the middle of dealing with a problem.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page about what needs to happen.
Get together your HR decision-makers, legal representation, and maybe even an insurance carrier or two together to talk about your options. Once you have your policy set make sure that everyone in management is aware of what needs to happen and provide training if needed.
Do your employees know that there’s a virus going around? Does everyone know how long it takes for water and soap to kill germs? How can you be sure that employees know how to handle things if they’re sick?
Education can be an important tool in managing virus outbreaks at work. Ensuring that your employees are well-informed can make managing a potential outbreak less chaotic. Talk to HR about training seminars to tell people about current risks and proper care. Make sure that managers and HR representatives stay up to date on the news.
Local news stations frequently report on emerging sicknesses in towns, schools, and other areas. Staying on top of the headlines can help ensure that your workforce isn’t caught off guard if other threats arise.
Focus on Disinfecting
It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with an airborne contagion or something that spreads through contact. The moment you suspect an outbreak in your office, you need to focus on disinfecting. Germs can live on surfaces for much longer than people think.
An office is a perfect environment for viruses and diseases to thrive in because there’s a constant stream of people touching things to work. Think about how many people touch everyday things like doorknobs, keyboards, and desks. Every surface needs to be thoroughly cleaned, and we aren’t talking about simply spraying some antibacterial cleaner on the desks.
Find an Excellent Cleaning Crew
Regardless of how many people are ill, you’re going to need to put work into disinfecting the office. Offices that are dealing with outbreaks need to go through some serious deep cleaning. This isn’t just important for sanitary reasons, it’s a good practice for legal reasons. When it comes to legal liability and responsibility for businesses and virus outbreaks, the waters are still murky. Liability can be determined by a variety of things. The steps your workplace takes to inform and protect employees will be taken into consideration if things ever go to court. Take the time to find a cleaning company that knows how to decontaminate as well as deep clean properties to remove the virus. Finding a company that can also dispose of contaminated equipment can help give you an extra level of safety and expertise.
Consider an Equipment Upgrade
When people talk about good things to have around the office to help with outbreaks, they think about antibacterial wipes and hand gel. While it is important to have the right disinfecting equipment on hand, there are other things you can do. If you’re concerned about managing future virus outbreaks, you should consider upgrading some of your equipment.
Antimicrobials have changed the disinfecting game at the office. You can get antimicrobial desks and keyboards so you have clean surfaces. There are also smaller antimicrobial office supplies you can get like pens or staplers. Offices with a reception or sign-in area may want to invest in antimicrobial writing equipment to ensure that things are kept clean.
Make Remote Work Simple
Don’t assume that sick employees will be the only ones that want to stay away from the office when they’re sick. Some employees will feel much safer if they’re able to work from home while people recover and offices are cleaned. Implement policies that make it easy to work from home. Have people review remote work policies so they’re still reachable when they’re not at the office.
Set people up with the right equipment so they can easily talk to their co-workers. Never underestimate the importance of peace of mind when you’re dealing with employees. Just knowing that it’s possible to easily work from home can make all of the difference.
Prepare Contingency Plans
If 2020 has taught business owners anything, it’s that sometimes preparing for the worst-case scenario is best. The next outbreak could have people out for a few days or even a few weeks. Take time to plan out what will happen if key personnel can no longer work. Make sure that managers are told as soon as their employees need to take sick time.
Ensure that high-level employees outline who can be contacted in case they’re out during an emergency. Keeping everyone updated and organized on current work can make hand-offs easier. Lines of communication should be open between teams in case any major projects are delayed.
Manage Current Virus Outbreaks Like a Professional
While we’re focused on the past, current virus outbreaks become more likely as days go by. The easiest way for offices to prepare for outbreaks is to establish a good policy so they can handle whatever comes their way. If you want to handle virus disinfection the right way, it’s time to work with professionals.
Questions about our disinfection services? Read our FAQ page so you can learn more about our process.
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