Updating Your Business For COVID-19

Paul Dandurand

How’s your company doing with updating policies and taking action for the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic? Your projects and operations depend on the health and well-being of your employees, subcontractors, and business partners. This article introduces government guidelines and important COVID-19 CDC and WHO links.

My company, Pie, invested in two free and simple executable processes with action steps for accountability and governance:

  1. COVID-19 Employer Preparation Plan (CDC-Based)
  1. COVID-19 Healthcare Facilities Preparation Plan (CDC-based)

Important page links

You can learn all about COVID-19 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site and the World Health Organization (WHO) pages. The following are valuable pages that each organization will update over time. Bookmark this post as a reference.

How to prepare your business

The six steps below are based on the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses page. This CDC page is designed to help prevent workplace exposure to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings, which means most business environments.

You can get the list of CDC steps as a free Coronavirus Employer Preparation Plan done for you as a task list from the new Pie Recipe Store. If you’re not a Pie customer, no problem. When you click the orange Import button, you can sign up for a free Pie account and use the project template recipe to execute the six steps below.

Watch this video to see how you an execute the CDC steps in the Pie application.

The following sections reflect the how-to steps for employers as defined on the CDC’s site and information from a few other sites. Follow the steps below or, better yet, run it like a project in Pie where you can assign accountability and monitor progress to ensure it gets done. The version in Pie provides more details than what’s listed below.

1. Initiate a preparation plan

Start your coronavirus (COVID-19) employer plan with the Initiate Preparation phase. Here you should consider why you’re doing this, how important it is for your employees’ health, and your business’ viability.

  • Review the purpose of your COVID-19 preparation plan. Your objective should be to consider how best to decrease the spread of an impact from COVID-19 across your business.
  • Identify and communicate your company’s objectives, such as:
    • Reducing transmission among staff
    • Protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications
    • Maintaining business operations
    • Minimizing adverse effects on other entities in your supply chain
  • Review your preparation. The steps you need to consider include:
    • Ensure the plan is flexible.
    • Conduct a focused discussion to look for plan gaps that need correction.
    • Share your plan with employees and explain HR policies including workplace and leave flexibility.
    • Share best practices with other businesses in your community and network.
  • Coordinate with state and local health officials. This is encouraged so that timely and accurate information can help you with your local business location or locations. Keep in mind the information for your business locations may differ according to local outbreaks.
  • Set up procedures for activating and terminating your response plan. You should prepare authorities, triggers, and procedures for activating your response plan. Also, prepare any plan-termination processes if the risk subsides.
  • Prepare a clear definition of COVID-19 and communicate it clearly to your employees, contractors, and business partners in your supply chain.
  • Establish a communication process ready to deliver information to your employees, contractors, and business partners. Think this through to anticipate fear, anxiety, rumors, and misinformation.

2. Review business sustainability risks

Your business’ viability and sustainability rely on your people who make things happen as well as your contractors and supply chain partners. The preparation phase should help you think about the risks from coronavirus and prepare to keep your people risk-free and your business doors open.

  • Identify your essential business functions, jobs or roles, and critical elements within your supply chains required to maintain your business operations. Think about how your business will operate if there’s increasing absenteeism or your supply chains are interrupted.
  • Set up key responsible management for your different business locations. If your business operation is mostly virtual with everyone working remotely, consider identifying managers in your different regions or countries.
  • Prepare for possible increase in absenteeism. This may not only include employees staying home for their own health issues and risks, but also their children dismissed from school if COVID-19 concerns increase in your school district.

3. Set up stay-at-home policies

Many firms already have great work-flexible options, but many don’t. This is the time for every company to think about updating stay-at-home policies. The following guidance from the CDC’s coronavirus employer preparation site can give you a jump start, with more details included in the free, actionable Pie recipe.

  • Explore flexible policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (telecommuting) and flexible hours to increase physical distance among employees.
  • Set up a stay-at-home policy for sick employees. Those who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness should be encouraged to not come to work until they are free of fever. Don’t require a healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness since providers may be overwhelmed with appointments. Include flexible policies that permit your employees to stay at home to care for sick family members.
  • Update sick-leave policies to be flexible and consistent with public health guidance. Ensure your employees are aware of these policies.
  • Include stay-at-home requirements for contractors and partners. Talk with them about the importance of developing non-punitive leave policies.
  • Post your policy changes and make them accessible for your employees. Send the updates via company-wide notices, internal site pages, and other means. Train your HR group to handle immediate questions and concerns when people receive these notices.

4. Set up on-site health action policies

Your on-site coronavirus preparation policies should be planned and ready for on-the-ground execution. This phase is about identifying risks and keeping the area clean to prevent contagions from spreading.

  • Identify employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms upon their arrival to work or during the day. Symptoms can include:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
  • Separate sick employees from the group. Send them home immediately!
  • Set up coughing and sneezing etiquette. These practices help prevent the spread of the disease. It’s critical to practice good hygiene etiquette when you are sick, especially when coughing or sneezing. Import the free Pie Coronavirus Employer Preparation Plan recipe to see details about how the illness is spread, how to help stop the spread of germs, and other tips.
  • Provide tissues and no-touch garbage cans.
  • Hang up health posters. Poster files from the CDC site are available in the Pie recipe.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and encourage frequent hand-washing.
  • Advise healthy employees who have sick family members to notify their supervisor.
  • Inform employees if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection.

5. Set up travel notices

Do your employees or contractors travel? Sometimes it is truly necessary. If so, ensure they’re afforded the best protection you can provide. If they don’t need to travel, encourage remote conferencing with tools like GoToMeeting, Whereby, or WebEx.

  • Consider a travel ban. Cancel non-essential business travel to high-risk locations as identified by CDC.
  • Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms before traveling.
  • Advise employees to contact their supervisor if they become sick while traveling.
  • If outside of the country, employees should follow your company policies for obtaining medical care, contacting a healthcare provider, or getting services from an overseas medical assistance company.

6. Perform routine environmental cleaning

Sometimes it’s impossible to know if someone is infected with a contagious illness, such as COVID-19. Therefore, ongoing environmental cleaning and disinfecting is a good way to reduce risks, whether or not there are physical signs of disease or infectious illness in the workplace.

  • Clean all frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs.
  • Provide disposable wipes for employees to wipe down commonly used surfaces before and after each use.

Get started

This information should help you get started with a coronavirus preparation plan for your business. A number of resources are starting to pop up on the web, and I recommend you keep tabs on the CDC website for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

In summary, you can execute the above activities in the free Pie preparation plan that contains more how-to details. On the recipe page, click on the orange Import button. Then you can turn this recipe into an actionable project.

Stay safe!

Learn more about how People Resource Planning can improve the project management process.

This article originally appeared on the Pie blog and is republished with permission.


Paul Dandurand

About Paul Dandurand

Paul Dandurand is the founder and CEO of PieMatrix, a visual project management application company. Paul has a background in starting and growing companies. Prior to PieMatrix, he was co-founder of FocusFrame, where he wore multiple hats, including those of co-president and director. He helped position FocusFrame as the market leader with process methodology differentiation. FocusFrame was sold to Hexaware in 2006. Previously, he was a management consulting manager at Ernst & Young (now Capgemini) in San Francisco and Siebel Systems in Amsterdam. Paul enjoys photography, skiing, and watching independent films. He earned a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.