Although there is still a great deal of uncertainty concerning the reopening of the U.S., with some states partially opening for business and some continuing to primarily work from home, eventually businesses will reopen. With that understanding, it’s important to look towards what practices are best advised for your company. Some policies that are recommended may apply broadly to most businesses once reopened, while some with particular needs may need to consult an HR representative on any rare circumstances.
The reopening of businesses is obviously dependent on public health strategies and cumulative success in suppressing outbreaks of the virus. Social distancing, increased availability of testing, isolation if exposed, and contact tracing are all efforts by individuals that can help to ensure an eventual reopening of businesses.
Various kinds of businesses will have their own specific mandates based on their services, however, here are some of the more general guidelines for reopening as they stand right now:
All businesses, once reopened, should:
- Continue to practice social distancing measures
- Implement a cleaning and disinfecting plan and schedule
- Maintain and revise the disinfecting protocol as directed by local health officials
For more information on cleaning and disinfecting protocol that is advised to the general public, visit this reopening guidance page provided by the CDC.
Reopening Office Buildings
If your business is in the process of going back to the office or is planning to in the near future, following recommended procedures will allow for a safe and healthy work environment. By checking on your facility itself, identifying potential problem areas, creating hazard controls and educating your employees, you can help to ensure the safest work environment possible for everyone.
Checking Your Facility
The CDC recommends checking your entire facility to ensure that workers can safely come back to work while also following all health and safety protocols.
Assessing your facility includes:
- Making sure that all ventilation such as air ducts and windows operate properly
- Utilizing windows to circulate outdoor air as well as fans or circulatory air-conditioning
- Checking for any hazards that may have accumulated that could contribute to the further shutdown of your facility (i.e. mold, pest problems, water leakage)
Identifying Hazardous Areas for Exposure
While checking the functionality of your facility, it is also advised to make note of areas that could be potential breeding grounds for transmission of COVID-19. Recognizing these areas is important in the process of reopening and informing employees of new protocols. You can identify potentially hazardous areas while assessing your office by:
- Determining which areas are heavily populated throughout the day (i.e. meeting rooms, common areas, dining areas, waiting areas)
- Assessing which areas do not allow for 6 feet of distance between individuals
- Measuring and noting dimensions of close-quartered office areas
If any area of your workplace is designated hazardous or potentially hazardous, making note for employees through visible signage is recommended and may also be required by your state or local government.
In order to maintain your office as a healthy place to work once reopened, developing hazards controls can help ensure that your facility is operating with the proper precautions. Methods for hazard control may vary from business to business, but workplaces generally should modify their work stations, physically separate employees, and take steps to increase ventilation. The CDC provides further information on hazard controls for reopening businesses which may address your facilities individual needs more clearly.
Educating Supervisors and Employees
Expressing to your employees that their safety while in the office is of the utmost importance and educating them on changes to protocol is essential. Some counties require that information on new protocols, office changes, and potentially hazardous areas be posted visibly for everyone to see. Informing your employees of the status of your workplace and keeping them up to date on the protocols you set will help to ensure their health and safety.
Looking Towards Reopening
Preventing and reducing transmission within the workplace is now a new responsibility for employers throughout the United States and globally. Following the proper procedures for your business and using the guidance provided by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention will help your business reopen safely and successfully.
If you are unsure what protocols your business is required to follow or how you can reopen safely once allowed, reach out to a locally trusted Human Resources advisor. Get in contact with us today. RTR Consulting has more than 20 years devoted to developing effective and efficient human resources policies, procedures, and best practices for small, start-ups, and medium-sized businesses.