Top 5 COVID-19 Reopening Strategy ConsiderationsYi Jin, Ph.D.
As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, one of the key things on every business person’s mind is implementing an effective COVID-19 reopening strategy.
We’ve learned a lot over the past year. We know that COVID-19 is incredibly contagious (and new variants are even more so). We know that social distancing and masks work. We know that we can do what it takes to battle this pandemic. But we also know that shutting down has cost us dearly, both in terms of the economy and our mental health.
That’s why, a year into this pandemic, we’re seeing businesses and organizations across industries fight to reopen — and stay open. The challenge is to do so as safely as possible while also navigating the latest guidance and regulations. What steps can you take to keep employees safe while also protecting the future of your business?
Creating a Strategy to Reopen Your Workplace
Top of mind for every business is keeping COVID-19 out of the workplace and, should an infection occur, being able to quickly stop it from spreading. But there are also concerns around mitigating risks to the business resulting from an outbreak as it could lead to regulatory fines, shutdowns, and even possible workforce litigation. All businesses need a solid strategy for reopening and here are five key areas to consider.
“All businesses need a solid strategy for reopening”
- 1. Facility Preparedness
There are relatively minor changes that you can implement in the workplace to make a big difference. Instead of having foot traffic flow both ways, designate an official entrance and exit and mark hallways with spacers and directional signage. Post occupancy limits in communal areas, such as breakrooms and elevators. Move workspaces at least 6 feet apart and, when that’s not possible, install plexiglass shields. Have several stations where free hand sanitizer is dispensed. Consider a system that monitors traffic and occupancy.
- 2. Day-to-Day Operational Management
Once you’ve prepared your building for reopening, it’s time to take a look at the way you operate. Is it necessary to have all employees work on-site every day? Allowing a certain percentage of your employees to work from home makes social distancing in the workplace far easier to accomplish. Requiring employees to wear masks is also vitally important — as is establishing a daily disinfecting routine that gives your employees confidence in the steps you are taking to keep them safe. It’s also absolutely essential to screen employees for fever — in the safest way possible — as it’s common to have an elevated temperature without knowing it.
- 3. Risk Mitigation Strategies
What business owners worry about most is a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace that jeopardizes employees’ health. But there are also a host of new regulations created to keep the workplace safe — and business owners must be vigilant to make sure they are in compliance and not vulnerable to potential workforce litigation and mandatory shutdowns. The good news is that the technology exists to make all of this considerably easier to accomplish (we’ll get to the specifics in a minute.)
- 4. Creating a Safety Plan
Human resource departments have never been so vital — or overworked. It’s typically their job to enforce new workplace regulations focused on keeping everybody safe. Coming to work with cold symptoms is no longer OK. Nor is shaking hands or crowded breakrooms. Human resource managers are also responsible for maintaining a positive work culture in a very difficult time, including managing Zoom fatigue and successfully onboarding new employees. And then there’s contact tracing in the event an employee does test positive. That’s a lot of monitoring to put on anybody’s plate. Here, too, new technology can make many of these tasks significantly easier, including health screening and contract tracing. It can even take over the role of a receptionist — or some other personnel — having to remind employees to wear a mask.
- 5. Reporting and Regulatory Requirements
Of all the issues employers must tackle, keeping up with the ever-evolving regulations and reporting requirements is perhaps the most challenging. If an employee tests positive, a business must be prepared to conduct immediate and effective contact tracing and, in some states, report within 48 hours of a case. If there’s no plan in place, that means a flurry of panicked phone calls and emails. Failing to properly adhere to the latest rules and regulations can expose a business to numerous risks, including fines, or even a mandatory 10 to 14-day shutdown period in some areas.
It is possible to reopen safely by taking the above actions. And the challenge can be far easier by taking advantage of technology and, specifically, AI-enabled technology. The Turing Shield COVID-19 Workplace Solution is an all-in-one, easy-to-use solution that enables employers to implement an automated protocol to protect the workplace. It checks a lot of boxes, including:
- Keeping potentially sick employees out of the workplace through a CDC-compliant health questionnaire done on their cellphones.
- Checking employees’ temperatures with the non-contact Turing Shield scanner.
- Alerting and reporting any non-cleared employees due to temperature irregularities.
- Making sure that all employees are wearing masks with the mask detection capabilities.
- Automated and HIPAA-compliant record keeping.
- Ability to conduct quick and efficient contact tracing with the press of a button.
“It is possible to reopen safely by taking advantage of technology and, specifically, AI-enabled technology.”
The end result is that your employees are safer and happier, your business is protected, and your human resource department is not overwhelmed. Here’s a quick video on how effortlessly it all works.
The Turing Shield COVID-19 Workplace Solution is already being used at more than 1,000 businesses nationwide, including Albertsons, Coca-Cola and Mattel. If you’d like to learn more about how it can help your business reopen safely and stay open, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 866.339.4268.
We all have the same goal of keeping our country healthy and prosperous — and we’d be happy to partner with you to help make that happen.