As the case numbers of COVID-19 continue to decline again here in Victoria, there is a tentative hope across the city that the light at the end of the tunnel is finally, steadily drawing nearer (do we dare to hope??)
It comes as a massive relief for Melburnians who have been locked down for the better part of the year – along with some trepidation, given what happened last time we decided to open up.
So how can we avoid a Groundhog Day-type scenario? Well, as any health expert (or crisis management expert, for that matter!) will tell you, it’s impossible to totally eradicate all possibility of another outbreak from happening (even with a vaccine). After all, even New Zealand, the poster child for ‘How to Handle COVID-19’, still got another outbreak after successfully defeating the virus for over three months.
But, much like New Zealand, we can prepare to mitigate its effects. This period of closure is exactly the time you need to get a plan ready for when the inevitable strikes again – there are a lot of moving pieces required to manage an outbreak quickly and efficiently (whether in your workplace or in the wider community), and you won’t have the time to figure it all out on the spot.
Here are a few examples of things to think about to make sure your workplace is ‘COVID-Ready’:
Have a position on what’s required of staff, contractors, visitors, and what preventative measures the company is taking. Follow government guidelines, be clear on where you stand and communicate this early. Consider using a town hall meeting, intranet, email signature block, social media and other channels you use to connect with your stakeholders.
Organise appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) for all staff where required (including face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser, sneeze screens, etc).
Allow staff to work remotely where possible (or stagger shifts to avoid public transport congestion). We believe a hybrid model of part working from home and part in the workplace is best for ‘COVID Normal’ scenarios.
Set up socially distanced seating and tables (in line with current guidelines).
Advise contact details on who to alert if feeling unwell or if there has been contact with a confirmed case.
Stay updated on current information from verified sources such as government or health regulatory bodies.
Open windows and doors wherever possible to encourage ventilation.
Have air-conditioning set using external air intake to reduce recycling internal air.
Enforce regular cleaning and sterilisation (in line with current guidelines).
Display posters promoting personal hygiene standards (try and keep these concise – not in size 8 font with 1000 instructions…)
Encourage cashless transactions (where possible).
Continually monitor / check social distancing guidelines are being followed.
Consider temperature screening for all employees and visitors upon entrance to premises.
Ensure confidential support / communications for staff is available.
Ensure any domestic or international travel is to be reviewed and approved by the Business Continuity Management Team.
Limit the number of people travelling in a company vehicle (in line with current guidelines).
Organise contact tracing for all meetings with clients or large groups.
Develop a Business Continuity Plan.
Integrate a pandemic response into your existing crisis plans.
Ensure ongoing and updated communications with regulatory bodies and staff.
Be prepared for a COVID-19 outbreak – preparing for the worst-case scenario is best, rather than hoping for the best and not being prepared.
Be ready to be agile and adaptive, ensure you conduct business continuity planning regularly and use the power of the 21st century to train your business into becoming more remote-friendly – even if WFH doesn’t 100% replace the traditional office, you can be sure that it will be playing a far more prevalent role than ever before.
We are human and will fall back into old habits very easily (no mask, no social distancing etc.) but if we continually reinforce the idea that being vigilant will allow us to keep operating, we can help to reduce the spread and maintain a ‘COVID Normal’.
Call us on +61417 160 120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat on how we can help prepare and protect your business to survive for better times ahead.