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How to keep your employees safe during the Coronavirus outbreak

Philip Shepherd

16th March 2020

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been officially declared a pandemic, and increasing pressure is now being put on companies to do as much as possible to keep their employees safe.


Here are some essential practices to implement in your workplace to minimise the risk of infection.


Encourage good hygiene

Good hygiene practices are always important, but they are absolutely essential during a virus outbreak.


Encourage your employees to wash their hands more regularly and for at least 20 seconds by placing signs in washrooms and kitchens. Hands should also be washed on the way into our out of the building, and employees should avoid sharing food or shaking hands.


Place hand sanitiser near doors to allow people to disinfect their hands when they are unable to wash them properly, and make sure to keep soap and paper towel dispensers topped up. Provide tissues and remind employees to use them whenever they cough or sneeze, to dispose of them immediately, and then wash their hands.


Keep your workplace clean

Increase the amount of cleaning in your workplace, both to improve cleanliness and to provide peace of mind that you are on top of the situation.


Ensure to regularly disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door handles, handrails, light switches and access buttons, and pay extra attention to kitchen and washroom facilities, where germs are more likely to be spread.


Send regular emails to employees to remind them to all do their part to keep the environment clean.


Limit meetings and external contact

When there’s a virus outbreak, it’s best to avoid gathering lots of people together in one place to prevent contamination.


Wherever possible, opt to hold meetings via video or conference call. Instead of a weekly stand-up meeting, keep teams up to date by using email, Skype or Slack. Consider reorganising or postponing large meetings if you are unable to hold them any other way.


While face-to-face client meetings are great for building relationships, they are also great for passing on viral infections. Cancel any in-person meetings that you have booked in, and opt for a phone or video call instead.


If you absolutely have to meet someone in person, remember to follow good hygiene practices and avoid shaking hands.


Minimise travel for employees

With a worldwide pandemic, neither local nor international travel is advised unless absolutely necessary.


Cancel or reschedule any business trips, especially those that involve long journeys, flights, or travels to areas with high rates of COVID-19 cases. While your company may lose money by cancelling pre-booked flights and hotels, this is by far preferable to endangering your employees and further spreading the virus.


For those employees who use public transport to commute, offer the option to work from home to prevent them from being exposed to people in close quarters on their journey to and from the office.


Let employees stay home

Make sure that employees know to stay home if they are unwell, or if someone else in their home is unwell. It may be worth revising your existing sick leave policy to make sure that people aren’t tempted to come in simply to avoid lost pay.


Even if your company has never offered it before, now is the time to give employees the opportunity to work from home. Shared networks, Google Drive, Skype and email make this relatively easy to set up for many office-based companies.

Philip Shepherd

Philip Shepherd

Founder & CEO

Philip specialises in: Senior, Director and C-Level roles in Digital Marketing

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020 7183 7145