The novel coronavirus — and the disease it causes, COVID-19 — is both a global concern and a domestic crisis. We’re seeing first hand, right now, what a combined appetite for information, disconnected infrastructures, and the speed of transmission can do. While many are working to increase transparency and the accuracy of information, others are pedaling scams, fake cures, and anxiety.
It can be hard to know what to do and difficult to feel like there is much we can do. Most of us are not working on the coronavirus vaccine. But that doesn’t mean that small collective actions are unimportant. In fact, they might be most important when it comes to protecting vulnerable people in our communities, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
So what can we do, as business leaders? Here are some actions you can take, now, to prepare for a local outbreak of this new coronavirus:
Increased Hygiene and Hand Washing Protocols
It’s simple, but cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (such as desks, counters, keyboards, phones, and touch screens) is one of the most effective actions you can take. Institute schedules to increase this sort of cleaning around the office now and it’ll be routine if or when COVID-19 arrives in your area. Make cleaning materials accessible and visible around your office. It’s also a good idea to make sure that alcohol based hand sanitizer is available for everyone.
You’ve probably heard many times now that washing your hands thoroughly — for a full 20 seconds — is important.
You can take action by raising awareness within your office or workplace. The World Health Organization has published boma posters — but you may want to make your own, something that reflects your organizational culture. Check out these creative PSAs made by health organizations, comedians, and pop musicians for inspiration.
There are some truly fanciful and dangerous ideas about curing this virus: from sesame oil treatments to bleach. Hand-washing might seem obvious, but against persistent waves of creative misinformation, every signal boost helps.
Prepare to Support Remote Work and Self-Quarantine
It can take up to 10 days after infection for a person to present symptoms of COVID-19. A 14-day self-quarantine after potential exposure to the virus is recommended. However, symptoms are often mild outside of high-risk populations (the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and asthma). Depending on your business and work culture, there may be pressure to work through such symptoms — which could help spread COVID-19.
Before it becomes an issue, take the time to make a plan for how your business can support remote work and encourage self-quarantine. If that’s unreasonable for your business model, then consider ways to cut down on travel, large meetings, physical contact with customers, etc… And, again, be sure to communicate and follow appropriate hygiene and hand-washing procedures.
Talk to your employees about the risks and your resilience plan. Better yet, involve them in the creation of said plan. Then, reach out to customers to prepare them for how your business will react to COVID-19.
Clear communication will improve the chances of your plans being successfully implemented. It will also contribute to a sense of community preparedness. A new, rapidly spreading virus is frightening. Many people are tense and anxious — even before their community is hit by this illness. Talking about your plan in a reasonable and prepared way reassures the larger community — and empowers others to feel more in control and capable, encouraging them to make their own plans.
A Few Questions
To recap, here are a few questions for you to answer:
Boma is about promoting actions that improve the world — and we know that sometimes it’s many people taking small, intentional actions that do the most good.
For the latest information on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, keep an eye on the World Health Organization’s website.