“Rollercoaster” is too much of an understatement. “Earthquake” is too short in duration. I can’t seem to find the best one-word analogy for the COVID-19 situation. So, I’ll paraphrase a recent meme, “It’s just like riding a bike, except the bike is on fire, and you are on fire, and world is on fire.”
If you are the leader of an organization there are also many other people on bikes, on fire, riding through fire, needing water to drink, air for their tires, and money for food. By the way, it’s your job to figure it all out for them…and right now. Then it’s all going to change again by tomorrow.
Pretty well sum things up for you? Then let me offer you encouragement. You are in a position of leadership for several reasons. First, I’m assuming you’re probably a good leader–otherwise you wouldn’t be here, right? Second, leading well is important to you. You believe in what you’re doing, you are passionate, and you are committed. Third, you lead because you see the need. It matters deeply to you what happens to your employees and and to those served by your organization. You are the leader, so get ready for what’s coming next.
The CDC has recently released their guidelines for Opening Up America Again. It provides general direction for states and regions in three categories; criteria, preparedness, and staging. The government of your state will determine the actual requirement you must meet. Understand, this doesn’t discuss every item, but highlights some key issues for employers during Phase One and Phase Two. Here are the (brief?) highlights:
- Telework wherever possible.
- Return in stages. This will be necessary to maintain social distancing and to prevent congregating. Most employers will have trouble providing sufficient equipment and disinfectant for their whole workforce in the short term.
- Be prepared to perform a basic “gating” process for your employees returning to the physical workplace. At a minimum you need to measure individuals’ temperature.
- You will need to provide protection equipment, at least masks and gloves.
- Establish work flows and procedures that can maintain social distancing. (Depending on who you ask this ranges from 6 feet to more than 22 feet.)
- Close the common areas, don’t allow congregation.
- Sanitize and clean everything often.
- Disinfect high traffic/workflow areas very often.
- Anyone not passing the testing or symptomatic must be sent home immediately.
- This is a tricky one, the guidelines call for “contact tracing”. No one is sure how to do this effectively.
- This is another tricky one, be aware of any “VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS” on your team. The CDC guidelines have more definition on this. Use caution when questioning individuals about their medical conditions. The CDC recommends consideration of “SPECIAL ACCOMIDATION” for vulnerable individuals.
- Find out if your organization is included under “SPECIFIC TYPES OF EMPLOYERS”. The CDC lists some types, but this will vary by state and region. They will also vary by the specific “PHASE” of your locality.
- Strictly limit business travel wherever possible. Interstate travel will have a lot of special considerations.
- And there will be other required processes depending on your state and local governments.
This certainly not a comprehensive list. Start with the CDC guidelines, check you state and local government website for further clarification. Then get with your leadership team (virtually, of course) to plan. There are some great tools to step you and your team through this kind of crisis management.
Stay well. Storms don’t last forever.