Businesses around the world have swiftly changed their workplace policies under the circumstances brought on by COVID-19. Many major corporations, including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, have mandated remote work in hopes of stopping the spread of the virus and getting the world back to a state of normality.
While news of companies shifting to remote work have made many headlines, there has been less attention around the millions of employees who work in industries like restaurant, retail, or manufacturing that are unable to work remotely. Small businesses that cannot operate remotely are forced to develop new strategies to protect the safety and wellbeing of both team members and customers.
If you’re a small business owner, you may have already come across the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Coronavirus Response Toolkit. This includes CDC recommendations and tools that business owners can leverage to keep people safe. But there are many other precautions you can take to help protect your employees during this time of uncertainty.
Here are four ways that small businesses with employees who cannot work remotely can manage COVID-19 concerns:
Update and Enforce Sanitary Health Practices
Enforcing the CDC’s guidelines for hygiene standards is one of the most effective ways to keep your employees safe. Many companies are making these practices a priority, which include mandating that employees frequently wash their hands, wear masks/gloves, and sanitize surfaces often with EPA-approved disinfectants. In addition to this, many businesses are providing hand sanitizer in offices and stores for the use of both employees and customers.
The CDC is continuously updating their cleaning and disinfecting guidelines as they learn more about the virus, so be sure that you stay up to date with the latest guidelines and adopt these standards for your business as they arise.
Encourage Social Distancing
Many businesses are also implementing processes to enforce social distancing. This can include limiting the number of employees and/or customers that are in a building at any given time, ensuring that customers are standing at least 6ft apart while waiting in line, and avoiding handshakes, unnecessary conversation, or other forms of social interaction. Many businesses are also limiting travel if it’s required as part of work.
Expand Sick Leave
Many large corporations have expanded sick leave for employees who are unable to work remotely, which can help stop the spread of the virus between employees. However, many small businesses don’t have the resources to provide sick leave. To help with this issue, the U.S. Department of Labor enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This temporary act reimburses U.S. small businesses with less than 500 employees with tax credits to help with the cost of supplying employees paid leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 virus. You can learn more about the FCCRA here.
Communicate with Customers
It’s important to communicate with your customers about any new policies or efforts that you are making to keep them and your employees healthy and safe. To help you navigate customer communication, checkout Facebook’s Business Resource Hub, which offers free guides and tools on how to support and engage with customers as needed.
These emergency preparedness tips are simple and effective ways to keep your employees and customers safe. To keep track of any new developments, make sure to check out the business center on the CDC’s website, which is continuously updated with the latest guidelines.