A review of forty-three cities that were hit with the 1918 H1N1 Coronavirus showed that getting aggressive early made a huge difference.
With the present-day Coronavirus now being detected in several U.S. states, and the domestic toll rising (32 as of last count), it is high time companies prepare a contingency plan for their business and a clear trigger for having their employees become remote workers.
In fact, if your employees can work from home, they probably already should be.
The COVID-19 virus outbreak has escalated in just a few days in the U.S. As more reported cases spread across the country, the question of whether and when to send workers home has become more urgent.
Companies in Washington state – the most hard-hit so far with 24 deaths from the virus – have already started to do so, responding to local health department recommendations. For those workers who can’t work from home, companies need to be taking steps to limit risks from the virus in the workplace. The rule of thumb for a pandemic situation is to be prepared for as much as 60% of your staff to be impacted for up to six weeks. Employees should have already tested whether their system can tolerate the available workforce operating remotely.
China, the epicenter of the virus, offers a blueprint for white-collar businesses’ ability to function with a remote workforce. With schools, stores and factories closed across the country, the virus forced the world’s largest work-from-home experience. In cities like Beijing, Hong Kong or Shanghai, some employees haven’t been at the office in weeks.
For a majority of workers, however, there is no work-from-home option. Nationwide, about 29% of the U.S. workforce, or about 42 million people, have a type of job that could be handled remotely, according to government estimates.
Companies would be wise to step up communication with workers about ways to avoid getting sick or transmitting a disease. Providing easy access to hand sanitizer would be a good start.
Here is a list of things you can do that may limit the severity and spread of infection:
- Get lots of sleep – you can cut your chance of infection down 50% if you are well-rested.
- Take Vitamin D supplements if your doctor approves.
- Trying Zinc lozenges could slow the infection rate of upper respiratory cells.
- Stock up on all prescriptions that you need right away.
- Have a plan in place in case you need to pull your kids out of school or daycare.
- Practice social distancing. Avoid traveling.
- Stock up on essential food items – the grocery store could well be a vector of infection.
- If you get a cough or congestion, self-quarantine. If you must go out, wear a face mask.
- Wash your hands often – for at least 20 seconds each time. And avoid touching your face.
- Cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough – use your arm or elbow, not your hands.
Businesses need to be sure they have factual information to make important decisions and use common sense in how they react.