Six Guidelines for COVID-19 Reopening

John Orloff

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Jun 9, 2020

Companies are under increasing public and economic pressure to reopen their doors. Whether your company decides to do so this month or months from now, you need to be prepared for a ‘new normal.’ Your strategy needs to help your organization re-establish operations in a manner that instills confidence among employees and clients, as well as fortify your organization against the ongoing risks of COVID-19.

To help you set the foundation for a reopening strategy, our fire, life safety and security risk experts have developed the following six recommendations.

#1: Prepare your employees for the ‘new normal’

Tactics and devices that two months ago would have seemed invasive will need to be normalized. Bluetooth-enabled wristbands that alert workers if they get too close to each other, thermal heat sensors that detect fevers and mandatory restrictions on coming to work while ill can all have an effect on workforce morale and productivity as everyone gets used to these new precautions.

To overcome these challenges, your organization should have a clear, transparent Emergency Recovery Plan that outlines key protocols and procedures for returning to work – and what to do when someone becomes ill. Share the plan with your employees. Start preparing them as early as possible for the changes they will see when they return to work. This should also help you return to expected levels of productivity sooner.

#2 Ensure that your facility is ready for employees to return

Your employees need to feel confident that they’re returning to a workplace that is safe and prepared. Before employees re-enter the office, you need to ensure that while the building was vacant, fire protection systems have been properly tested and maintained. As the importance of social distancing and limiting interactions remains paramount, you may find the need to add or modify egress paths throughout the facility to maintain those guidelines. In doing so, ensure that those paths remain obstacle-free and free-flowing.

#3 Revisit your workplace violence prevention programs in light of new stressors.

An unfortunate result of the stress brought on by a global pandemic is a heightened risk for workplace violence. Even when employees are working remotely, the warning signs of violence can be readily apparent to employees who are trained to recognize them.

As teams report back to their respective workplaces, it’s even more important to reinforce the reporting process for behaviors of concern. It’s also a good idea to conduct training to refresh employees before they transition back into the workplace. Online workplace violence prevention training is an excellent way to prepare employees ahead of their return to work.

#4 Make – and keep – emergency preparedness a team effort

Until a vaccine is readily available, COVID-19 will remain a health risk and it’s not likely to be the last one. Two of the many lessons COVID-19 is teaching the world are: how prepare for a global pandemic, and that being ill-prepared can have devastating consequences. To that end, organizations should have experienced emergency and pandemic response teams – either in-house or as external consultants – readily available to help them mitigate the future impact of potential outbreaks.

#5: Mitigate disruptions to your business with stronger supply chain due diligence

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted established supply chains and vendor relationships.

As people go back out into the world, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) will continue to expand beyond the typical users. The average business will need ready access to face masks, disposable gloves and cleaning supplies in quantities that may not be available from their usual vendors.

We are now working with clients to conduct expedited, targeted vendor due diligence investigations that go beyond a “check-the-box” watchlist screening. Companies need meaningful information about vendors, often within hours of a request. These vendor due diligence investigations provide our clients with a much-needed level of assurance when they are under pressure to secure supplies. These investigations also signal when it’s time to look for a new source.

#6: Re-evaluate the effectiveness of physical and technical security measures

With many workspaces still cleared out because of COVID-19, some of our clients are taking this opportunity to conduct in-depth re-evaluations of their physical and technical security capabilities. An empty or near-empty facility provides a clean slate for our security experts to conduct technical counter surveillance measures, perform penetration tests to identify vulnerable access points, assess the effectiveness of video recording equipment and examine other security and safety measures, especially those that relate to an emergency preparedness plan.

This is also an opportunity to train, or retrain, your workforce on security protocols. It could be as simple as an emailed update reminding people to stay diligent about access points or, if your facility is more accessible or higher risk, a short security awareness training course that reinforces your security measures and how employees should respond to a potential breach.

The world we will all emerge into is dramatically different from the one we knew weeks ago, possibly even a few hours ago. These recommendations highlight critical areas of safety, security and prevention that can set you up for a successful recovery strategy – no matter what the future holds.

For more information, view our “Return to Work” checklist