Plan Today, Prepare For Tomorrow: Implementing WHO Guidelines to Get Back to Work After COVID-19

2020 started with a great deal of optimism but quickly turned to more speculation than planning, more chaos than streamlining, and more uncertainty than clear business goals. And before we could interpret or prepare, the novel Coronavirus had taken the world completely by storm. As we move forward in our attempts to stop the spread, businesses, workplaces, organizations, and educational institutions have chosen to continue to keep their operations closed for the time being. But as we step into the 3rd month of social distancing and self-isolation, it’s time to start planning on getting back to business/work and to prepare ourselves for the COVID-19 aftermath.  

As an employer or business owner, it is vital that you do everything to keep your workspace and community hygienic. Hand washing, sanitizing, and repetitive cleaning have already put personal hygiene front and center in everyone’s thoughts. Re-opening your business, however,  is not limited to personal hygiene only. Making sure your workspace is clean is extremely crucial too. Disinfecting every surface regularly is a necessity once you are back open for business. Even if your employees/workers return safe from the infection, they are never completely safe unless your entire premises is free from any type of contamination. If possible, put an effective housekeeping team in place – even if it’s a small one. A few dedicated housekeeping employees can go a long way toward eliminating any kind of COVID-19 related workplace hazards. 

Based on various WHO’s COVID-19 recommendations, here are a few other ways to keep a check on the cleanliness of both your workplace & your employees:

  • Make thorough hand-washing a mandate for all the employees, customers, and visitors.
  • Place sanitizing dispensers at different locations throughout your premises. Make sure the dispensers are re-filled several times per day.
  • If possible, give away free respiratory hygiene resources to your employees or customers. If you can not give face masks, alternative resources like bandanas would also be a great way to promote good respiratory hygiene. There are also YouTube links that show clever ways of making your own homemade masks – including the clever use of a sock!
  • Crosscheck regularly to ensure all employees are following the preventive measures put in place at your business. 
  • Make effective signage front-and-center of your store, business space, workplace, etc. This will ensure sales/communication without having to interact personally with others.
  • It’s even better to use written communication to reinforce and promote various mandates that need to be followed in the wake of COVID-19. Effective safety display signage such as standee, sidewalk sign, or posters at multiple places within and outside your premises is the best way to keep safety top of mind. 
  • Make use of your store/facility windows and walls to communicate vital information to your customers/employees/visitors.
  • Ask your employees to avoid travel until it’s an extreme necessity.
  • Do not give up on the idea of social distancing even after you return to work. Make sure your employees and customers follow the WHO’s social distancing guidelines of maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between people. 
  • If your business involves food or direct contact with customers such as hair or nail salons, it is necessary to equip yourself with PPE kits before returning to work. 
  • Scale down your in-person meetings to fewer people, smaller groups of people, or see if they can be switched to virtual meetings instead.
  • For retailers, it is imperative to have floor stickers or markings outside your stores to ensure that customers do not queue up too closely. Inside, using effective tools like custom floor decals with relevant social distancing messaging is also an important tool for keeping everyone healthy and safe. 
  • Having access to on-demand healthcare service providers is of great importance in case of an emergency. Keep a list on hand in case anyone should need immediate assistance. 
  • Keep a regular check on your employees to ensure that they show no signs of symptoms related to COVID-19 such as coughing, sneezing, fever, or respiratory issues. 
  • You must have a preparedness plan ready in case of an emergency – e.g. one of your workers falling sick. This includes such things as staff coverage, immediate quarantining, and business disinfecting.
  • Keep showing care and thankfulness towards your employees & customers in order to motivate everyone to continue to keep the health of all of us top of mind. 

By beginning to plan now, to pursue safer operations, and equip yourself with everything that your business or workplace might need, you will be ready to open and operate with maximum efficiency the moment it is deemed safe to do so.  While this new normal will feel strange for a while, with the cooperation and a health-focused mindset, everyone can get back to work after COVID-19 and feel a lot safer while doing it.

Most of our recommendations are based on the recent WHO workplace guidelines. To understand the key considerations to help reduce Corona Virus risks, you can visit the WHO website for the official updates.

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