Covid-19 Response


Foxdale's Three Pillar Approach


Step One:

Work life after Covid-19 will change. Preparation is key to mitigating current risk, avoiding unanticipated consequences and maintaining flexibility to address future adjustments and requirements. The first step is understanding what your employees' perceptions and concerns before you resume business operations. Surveying employees will enable you to anticipate the issues related to creating a safe workplace environment that minimizes the perceived risk of exposure to the virus. You also need to understand the laws and regulations imposed on your business by federal, state and local authorities. It isn’t enough to just reopen the doors. You need a plan.
At Foxdale we recommend taking the following steps:
1. Survey your employees asking them about key issues including health care concerns, remote working issues, child-care, commuting and what coming back to the office looks like for them.
2. Evaluate your various workplace options – revolving work schedules, keeping part of your staff working remotely, bringing everyone back.
3. Assess your workplace policies – what needs to change? What new policies do you need? How does management need to change?
4. Assess existing contracts and relationships– healthcare, custodial, IT, insurance, and others.
5. Plan to communicate the changes and alterations to your policies and procedures.
6. Create the plan.
This Preparation period is also the time to outline a contingency plan for your business in the event of a second wave of the virus.
Training and communication are critical for a successful transition to reopening your workplace. It is essential that you follow the planning process by engaging with your management team, and your workforce in full, so they understand what has changed and what is expected of them. The training component is critical as the post COVID-19 workplace will be new to everyone involved. Here are few key points:
1. Train your managers. Most managers were thrust into a work from home environment with little or no training. Reopening your offices or transitioning to a more remote workforce environment creates an excellent opportunity to establish company guidelines for supervision and management of teams. Training your managers on how to do that effectively is critical as this style of management is new to them.
2. Communicate the findings of your employee survey to all employees. Acknowledge their concerns and clearly articulate how the company is addressing those issues.
3. Communicate your new policies and procedures including reporting procedures for notifying the company if an employee has contracted COVID-19 or has come in contact with someone who has contracted the virus that conform to federal, state and local labor laws and privacy requirements.
4. Train the staff on how to properly maintain the workplace including procedures for common areas, in-person meeting procedures and preparing shared workspaces for co-workers.
5. Clearly articulate the company’s remote work policies.
6. Clearly communicate performance expectations and any changes in the performance evaluation process.
When you communicate with employees pay special attention to making the business case for each step in the plan. Try and relate all messages to how they support your corporate goals while maintaining the safety of the company’s employees.
We also want to reinforce the training of your management personnel. Managers will be the new front line for addressing the myriad of workplace concerns that employees will have on returning to work. Managers must be prepared to anticipate employee concerns, manage complaints, recognize and respond to requests for accommodation or leave, address workplace safety issues, and manage remote workers. An effective, free-flowing communication program from the top down and providing a feedback loop for employees to communicate with management will ultimately lead to the success or failure of your new business model, especially with the possible addition of a larger remote workforce.

Step Two:

Covid-19 creates new challenges for keeping your office space and workforce healthy and safe. Companies will need to change many of their current policies and make significant changes to keep employees safe. OSHA has deemed that Covid-19 poses a serious risk of death in the workplace and is nearly impossible to mitigate. That creates new risks. Implementation of your reopening and Covid-19 operating procedures require you to take certain steps in implementing the plan. We suggest the following:
1. Initiate a written policy for screening employees and any visitors to the office for potential Covid-19 symptoms. Screening must be dynamic and ongoing. Documentation of these steps is critical to limit legal liability.
2. Confirm with your landlord the steps they are taking to clean and disinfect the workplace and communicate these steps to your employees.
3. Identify the Human Resources professional responsible for all Covid-19 related matters so there is a designee for employees to turn to for information and guidance.
4. Establish and document policies for use of common and shared spaces. Post signs in common areas making these policies clear and that they are for everyone’s benefit.
5. Establish management review procedures to document adherence to corporate policies related to the prevention of spreading Covid-19 within the workplace.
6. Have recurring meetings to keep employees updated on the status of the revised operating procedures.
Overall, when implementing your plan, it is important to make your employees feel like the company is taking Covid-19 issues seriously. Remember, protecting the privacy of your employees is important and you have an obligation to protect the confidentiality of an employee’s medical issues. Familiarize your employees with new CDC guidelines for creating a safe and clean workplace. Among the recommendations from the CDC, consider bringing in a medical professional on certain days of the week (or any regularity that works for you) to show your employees that you take their health seriously.
The above recommendations are general in nature and designed to provide a framework to customize for your company’s specific needs. If you require assistance, Foxdale can help in various ways. We can assist with most phases from helping you design your plan, surveying your employees, building communication programs, revising policies and procedures, remote technology solutions, creating training programs and many other elements of your re-opening plan or transition to full-time remote employees.



Other Considerations

As companies evaluate their performance during the imposed work from home environment and consider the cost/benefit of redesigning office spaces, expanding footprints to accommodate social distancing or making other changes to the traditional workplace model, Foxdale can help management through the decision process. For example, if your office lease expires within the next year, do you negotiate your way out of the lease, negotiate concessions from your landlord for financial assistance to modify your existing space to meet the new requirements imposed or do you consider a move and transition to more flexible work requirements for your employees? All are valid options but deciding how to proceed can be the difference between success and failure in the “new normal” of a post COVID-19 economy. To determine what works best for your company, let Foxdale help you through that decision process.

For more information on Foxdale's services and the resources available to address your issues, please contact us directly.

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