As of this writing, it appears that Kansas City is not suffering COVID-19’s wrath as much as coastal cities like New York City. This is due to two factors: KC has a much lower population density than NYC, and its residents by and large are complying with stay-at-home orders. (Aside: New Yorkers are also following stay-at-home orders and are seeing their infection and death rates go down.)
On April 30, Mayor Quinton D. Lucas amended his state of emergency proclamation to set into motion a soft reopening of the city. Care is being taken not to reopen too quickly — e.g., non-essential businesses open to the public must only take in at most 10 people or 10% of their capacity (whichever is greater). This is because history shows that viral pandemics can come in waves, and that the second wave can be far more devastating than the first.
To help firms like yours get back to business while still helping to prevent the calamitous outcomes a second wave would bring, we’ve compiled a checklist of best practices for you to follow:
☐ Implement a remote work policy
If you haven’t done so already, have a remote work policy in place. Yes, not all jobs can be done at home, but there are some that can be shifted to distributed teams. For example, administrative tasks such as accounting and payroll can be done remotely. This is to reduce the population density of your workplace and make it easier for everyone else coming in to work to practice social distancing.
☐ Hold less in-person meetings and postpone unnecessary travel
To spread, the virus requires people to be in close proximity with one another, so instead of having your employees physically gather in conference rooms, hold video conferences instead. Video conferencing also mostly eliminates the need to travel, thus reducing the risk of an employee getting infected and exposing everyone else in your organization to danger.
Remember, people with COVID-19 can be infectious long before they show any symptoms. If you require someone to travel, have them screened upon their return. In the absence of testing, that employee might have to self-quarantine for 14 days instead.
☐ Grant staff members flexibility with their work arrangements
Because many schools and daycare centers remain closed, employees with young children will need to stay home until they find a way for their kids to be taken care of. Others may be tending to loved ones who are sick or are themselves positive for the novel coronavirus. During this time, it may be best to relax policies on leaves and absences while coming up with contingency plans in case you do get understaffed.
☐ Have your staff wear face masks and supply workspaces with soap and disinfectants
The virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets that can hang in the air or stick to surfaces for hours or days at a time. Transmission can therefore be stemmed by wearing face masks while in public spaces and by sanitizing hands frequently.
Disposable masks are in short supply, and people are especially asked to refrain from buying N95 or surgical masks, as these are needed by healthcare professionals. To address this issue, encourage your staff to buy reusable masks, have them make their own cloth face coverings, or provide them with masks.
☐ Kindly ask customers to wear face coverings
In this new normal, it is common courtesy for everyone to wear face masks while outside the home. However, there are some who are not so inclined to be courteous.
To illustrate, store owners and employees in Stillwater, Oklahoma were threatened with violence when they tried to enforce the city’s face mask requirements on their patrons. While Missourians may be of a kinder persuasion, it’s best to eschew a confrontational approach when it comes to patrons who come in without wearing masks. Perhaps they weren’t able to buy masks, or they weren’t aware that they could’ve made their own. In any case, prepare a supply of masks and kindly offer these to customers. Show them that you care for their welfare and that of your employees.
Additionally, always have hand sanitizer and soap ready for your customers. Only by working together can we totally thwart the COVID-19 pandemic.
Umbrella is helping firms across Kansas City implement remote work policies and other IT solutions to help them cope with our new normal. To learn more about how we can help your business adapt, contact us today.