News of the coronavirus disease 2019, or “COVID-19”, the newly identified respiratory disease that is impacting people around the world, changes daily. In this time of uncertainty and disruption, we want to help you and your team feel empowered, connected, safe, healthy, and engaged. We prepared this kit with our experienced team on how to navigate the workplace during this difficult time.
Share useful resources and important information with your team. Based on best practices gathered from our customers, here are some key recommendations you may want to consider sharing:
- Our response
- How to prevent
- How the virus spreads
- Symptoms of COVID-19
- Personal responsibility
- What to do if you are sick
- stress and coping guide
- Additional info - CDC website
On a practical level, you can consider using the dedicated library template we created (read more here). Or if you prefer, you can create a custom layout with customized folders, here's an article explaining how. In either case, we recommend you'll make some refinements for your specific company and that you'll include local instruction (e.g on the state level).
One of our key recommendations is to adjust to the needs of the hour by introducing new protocols and guidelines. While a different organization may have different needs, there are some key areas all businesses should cover. Here are some of the best global common practices:
- Reduce gatherings to a minimum: if you have company events, town-hall meetings, meetings with multiple participants, etc. consider canceling/postponing those events to another time. Most organizations are limiting interaction to 10 people and standing or sitting at least 5 feet apart.
- Keep a good distance: if your organization has a customer-facing side or a queue, recommend keeping a distance of at least 5 feet between all persons whenever possible. Also, let people wait in open terrain without close contact as opposed to clustered spaces.
- Limit visits to the absolutely necessary minimum: visitors are usually coming from external circles (like tours, job interviews, or family members), making exposure significantly more likely. Therefore, unless absolutely crucial, limit visits to your facilities or prohibit them for the time being.
- Dining halls, cafeterias and other public spaces: When possible, you should close such spaces. However, in some cases, you can't avoid utilizing key public spaces as a result, we recommend you consider a 'shift approach' where only a maximum number of people in a given place at any single moment are allowed. (Many countries limit outside population gatherings to 10 persons.)
- Work from home: whenever possible, let your employees work from home so they are coming in contact with as few people as possible and are less likely to get sick or to get others sick.
- Keep people on any given shift to a minimum: try and work as lean as possible to reduce the number of people on site.
Sanitation and cleaning
- Keep the work environment as clean as possible: if you can, increase the frequency of cleaning and consider a higher standard for sanitation. Put an emphasis on 'high risk' areas such as restrooms, kitchens, dining places, and meeting rooms.
- Provide personal hygiene-related products: masks, hand sanitizer, wet-wipes, gloves and any other products that your employees can use to keep a clean and safe environment should be provided and accessible at any given moment. Some organizations may even require full-body suits so make sure you have everything you need in stock.
- Mandate team members to wash hands before core activities, including before and after lunch, before and after touching work equipment, etc.
Keep up bottom-up information flow with digital reporting
- Mandate reporting on coming into contact/showing signs of sickness with a 'Potential Exposure' report. This allows people to instantly and safely inform their manager if they may have been in contact with someone who became sick or alternatively, if they are starting to feel sick.
- Mandated quarantine report: in some states, people may be required by law to stay in an in-home quarantine. If this is the case, then a digital report is a great way to let your team inform you if they are required to do so, and will also help you keep track of the impact and magnitude of quarantine on an organizational level.
- Read and Sign reports: you may want to consider issuing 'read and sign' forms for your team members to make sure they read and understood your newly introduced guidelines and policies. It is a very efficient way to distribute information and get confirmation that it funneled down to every single employee.
- Weekly status report for managers: build some kind of an ongoing reporting mechanism for managers. This is especially relevant if you are in 'work from home' conditions. Consider including a summary note for a 'team weekly call', a health status check of all team members, special notes, etc.
- Work from home readiness form: if your team members are required from home, ask them to fill a checklist to make sure they have everything they need to work (computer charger, monitor, mouse, etc.) and to point out if anything is missing and needed.
- Field Updates: think of your team as your eyes and ears in the field. Allow them to report on any updates they think might be relevant - perhaps they ran out of gloves or they have an idea on how to do things better. Let them send a report with text and images with their ideas.
- Keep work travel to the bare minimum: consider prohibiting work-related flights (most big companies such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft already have). If someone must travel, make sure they check the status and protocols in their destination, as some may require them to remain in quarantine upon arrival.
- Pre-approved vacations: if someone already booked tickets, consider your internal policy on how to address such a case. A common practice is to allow the employee to travel, but to require they stay at home for 2 weeks after their return.
Vacation and Sick leave
- Vacation guidelines: consider issuing guidelines on recommended vacation protocols at this time. In some organizations, you might want to encourage team members to take a vacation and stay at home.
- Sick leave: provide clear guidelines on the meaning of sick leave and consider consulting with your legal team. (For example, if my son is sick with coronavirus, am I allowed to have family sick leave?)
In times of uncertainty, communication plays a key role for you and your team to control the narrative, raise morale and eliminate rumors before they start. Here are a few recommendations when it comes to communicating with the team:
Key topics to communicate:
- Company updates: continuously communicate on how the organization is preparing for COVID-19 and to protect the health and safety of its employees and customers.
- CEO weekly updates: have the CEO to publish a weekly update for the team to give a sense of control and involvement.
- Share the 'Stay safe principles’' over and over again: communicate to the team key guidelines for staying safe and preventing the spread of the virus. You can use the template update we have prepared for you.
- Notify the team on upcoming implications: what does that mean for customers? What do you expect? What about vendors and suppliers? Have all these questions answered and ready ahead of time.
- Update on CDC updates and local authorities guidelines: also mention how that may affect the organization and your employees.
- Rely on your mid-managers: in such times they play a key role. Being the link to the wider team, leverage their capabilities and presence, let them keep in close contact with the team and continuously feed information bottom-up and top-down.
- Positive and social communication: don't let COVID-19 be the only thing on your feed. Celebrate success, recognize your employees, give people a dose of happy things alongside the important updates.
- Demonstrate the new norm: share images, updates and anything else that shows how the organization is already running in a new norm and that things are under control.
- Ask people to stay tuned to the app and to push notifications. This will give you clarity on who got your messages and who didn't.
- Add relevant and emergency contacts to your app directory so it’s easy to find and searchable for your team. What are the phone numbers your team should be aware of? Highlight that.
- Consider a dedicated Q&A chat channel for your team so everyone can ask questions quickly.
- Establish a digital form for reports/questions from employees that are automatically forwarded to key personnel.
- Keep a continuous drumbeat: send an update at least every 2 days to keep people informed. Even if things are stable, let your team know.
- Senior leadership involvement: in times of confusion and uncertainty, getting updates from a higher authority gives a sense of confidence. Be sure to send reports directly from the CEO and leadership team.
- Keep a positive spirit: make sure not to give into only 'stress' or negative communication, but to share positive communication as well. Celebrate success, spotlight on employees, birthdays, etc. to balance the communication and raise morale.
- Counter rumors as they arise: rumors have a great negative potential impact and they are best contradicted by facts with a quick response. Encourage your team to ask if they are not sure and not to spread rumors that can only have a negative effect. Don’t let anyone get caught up in the media frenzy, instead rely on credible sources for information like the CDC or WHO.
- Emotional communication for personal responsibility: people best relate to personal stories. At first, some team members may underestimate the situation and it is best to make them aware by sharing individual stories/facts from countries that didn't respond quickly enough so they'll understand what's at stake.
Everyone at Connecteam is here to help you make work awesome, but sometimes there are circumstances that make this challenging. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need advice.
Stay safe and stay healthy!