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  4.  » The Weekly Pulse – Prepping Your Office & Business for Reopening

New York City has entered Phase 2 which includes the reopening of: 

      • All Office-Based Jobs:
        • Professional services, administrative support, information technology
      • Real Estate Services:
        • Building and property management, leasing, rental and sales services
      • Retail:
        • In-store shopping, rental, repair and cleaning, barbershops and hair salons with limited service, motor vehicle leasing, rental and sales
      • Outdoor Dining

For many returning to the office or resuming business operations may feel like a new beginning. Indeed, we are living and operating in an altered paradigms. Hence, we must continue to be resilient, cautious, healthy, and safe venturing outdoors into this new reality. Workplace safety has a more significant meaning. Employees are called to take new measures and develop new policies and guidelines that ensure safety and inspire employee confidence in the workplace. Today we are sharing tips to help offices and businesses safely reopen. 

  • Stay Home, If You’re Sick: 
    • All employees are advised to stay home if they are sick until the recommended quarantine period is over and at least 24 hours after a fever is gone (temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 Celsius or higher).
    • The CDC recommends that workers experiencing flu-like symptoms after arriving in the workplace should promptly notify Management, provide a list of all employees they have been in contact with, machinery or equipment they have come in contact with and leave for the day. Management must then notify all identified coworkers who may have been exposed within the last 48 hours. The CDC recommends those employees once notified should also quarantine for 14 days and be on alert for potential symptoms.
    • Staff members caring for a family member with flu-like symptoms will continue to work remotely and quarantine for 14 days after the ill family member has fully recovered or tested negative for COVID-19. However, be advised many such employees are particularly problematic because they may well be immune to the Coronavirus while exposing others. As a result, such employees caring for or living a family member whose recently been infected with COVID-19 can return to the job with proper medical documentation showing a minimum of two (2) consecutively negative test results for COVID-19. 

Until more data is available detailing: how the virus spreads, whether immunity can be verified, how a potentially immune person can or cannot spread the disease; the above are precautions the CDC recommends for offices and businesses.

  • Send a Return-to-Work Memo to Your Staff:
      • Send a memo in advance which lays out the policies and procedures that will be in place to ensure workplace safety for all employees, vendors and clients at least 48 hours prior the reopening date. Follow up with a phone call or text message to ensure every employee reads the message prior to reentering the workplace.
  • First Day of Reopening Review Office Best Practices w/Staff which Should Include:
      • Stay home if you are sick or experiencing symptoms.
      • Wear mask at all times while in the Office, particularly when speaking into a telephone or with a colleague, client or vendor 
      • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
      • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
      • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze into your elbow.
      • Avoid touching commonly touched surfaces without a napkin (i.e elevator buttons, door handles, drawer knobs, etc.)
      • Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, pens, staples or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If unavoidable, clean and disinfect office supplies and machinery before and after use. 
      • Practice social distancing by avoid large gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately six feet) wherever possible.
  • Monitor Employee Temperatures:
      • To slow the spread inside your organization, temperature monitoring is allowed and recommended. Limit access points and set up an area (s) outside the company to check employee temperatures before they enter the office space. Any employee showing a temp of 100° or higher should be sent home. Remember to ask employees to keep a 6-foot distance from their coworkers while waiting to enter.
  • Wear A Mask
      • It is the law! An Executive Order as signed by the Governor of New York State mandates all employees working with the general public or working in a space with 8 or more people to wear masks.
  • Employee Education and Communication
    • Monitor and communicate all Federal, State, and Local updates and guidelines pertaining to business and employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amend and communicate guidelines and protocols as they are discover, this will help to alleviate employee confusion and anxiety.
  • Implement Social Distancing Practices
    • Social distancing can be challenging depending on the square footage of an office space To properly execute social distancing (at least 6 feet) and avoid large gatherings between employees, customers and visitors, companies will be instituting alternatives for lunch and meeting gatherings as well as other policies in the workplace. Examples of practices include:
      • Increase physical space between employee worksites.
      • Increase physical space between employees and customers (partitions, enforcing mask requirements for clients, glove requirement for handling mails and deliveries, etc.)
      • Consider limitations to cafeteria or break room areas to avoid gathering at any given time.
      • Look into alternate office space solutions that can allow for a separated and distanced workforce or unexpected building closures.

Companies should be prepared to respond in the event of a recurrence of the outbreak and should determine the potential impact to their workforce and operations. As COVID-19 related developments evolve, we encourage all businesses to follow CDC and local guidelines on reopening, social distancing and health best practices. 

Finally, we recently published an article on our website – The Weekly Pulse: At Gaining Wisdom in Changing Times and listed referenced you can use to get involved and be a part of the progressive change. We would like to include an additional resource on how you can help support Black-Owned Small Businesses by Finimpact. We hope you’ll find this helpful.

Additional Resources:

NYC Business Reopening Guide

COVID-19 Guidance for Business Owners and FAQs

CDC – Businesses and Workplaces

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