As we are waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to be declared over and we can all go back to normal, whatever that is, or if we will ever go back completely to pre-COVID-19 routines, it is time to determine what we have learned from these past months and how to incorporate the learnings into the “new” normal. There are still many questions to answer and many more to ask.
We can start with the recent learnings such as businesses of all sizes and types need to have plans in place to deal with a significant and temporary loss of employees and the ability to conduct business as usual. What is the business continuity plan? How is the company going to deal with a similar type of pandemic situation or what if this current pandemic comes back in the fall and winter of this year in a second wave? Will we have forgotten all we have learned, or will we begin to write down the planning, actions, reactions, procedures, and processes that we have put into place?
The FEMA website (https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/89510) has good information to get started with checklists and templates to plan and develop for business continuity.
Other things to consider in the workplace is the need for certain items based on the situation such as do we have enough laptops and/or tablets to allow workers to work remotely? Does the company have enough equipment and bandwidth to handle most workers to work remotely without interruption? What planning does the company need to do and what planning does the worker need to do to be able to work remotely? Are the home offices set up so that many ergonomic issues that are addressed in the office with the correct style of adjustable desk and fully adjustable chair do not occur with the laptop on the family dining room table and using the hard chair with a pillow? Does every worker have internet connection and WIFI capabilities? How will conference calls be conducted, or meetings conducted? How will collaboration take place when everyone is working remotely?
What about in workplaces where working from home is not an option – construction jobsites or manufacturing facilities or restaurants that only serve take-out or delivery or retail establishments? We do not have the space to address the healthcare situation in this article though vey important. Can we spread out the work so that from the normal one shift be split into two shifts – a morning shift and an afternoon shift? Do we have enough room to spread people out and still get the job accomplished?
Where do we get our information on which to base our decisions? Anywhere on the internet or social media sites? A few places I recommend are the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and OSHA. Many states and counties have departments of health that can provide more localized information. As mentioned earlier, FEMA is another good source of information.
One of the biggest take-aways from this pandemic, a situation that was out of our immediate and initial control, is that we take what we have learned and plan for the next time, hoping that it will never happen. We have had to learn a lot in a short amount of time, lets not forget all of this. We need to write it down and plan for the next time or the next similar situation, so we are prepared and ready!