Although the Chamber is a membership organization, and that is primarily how we fund our mission, we are also a community asset and our top priority is to ensure you and the rest of the business community bounce back from this crisis as soon as possible.
The Government of British Columbia recently announced BC’s Restart Plan. This staged COVID-19 recovery plan is designed to gradually re-open business and get people back to work.
The length of the pandemic is unknown and there are multiple stages of this plan, however, we have already begun the first stage, with the next tentatively set to begin mid May. The timing of the stages will depend on the health conditions of the province and the use of resources, so it is important to follow all official health orders and guidelines.
Employers must be prepared to relaunch their business, working to new conditions while remaining flexible enough to adapt to ongoing changes. To help you prepare to open your doors, we have created a toolkit that outlines some of the steps and resources necessary to move forward.
Step 1: Create a back to work task force
Step 2: Prepare your office or work space
Step 3: Prepare your employees
Step 4: Prepare to do business
Create a task force of cross-functional stakeholders to address human resources, legal obligations, facilities, and operations. This team should be limited in size and should work remotely until all policies and procedures are established and it is safe to return to work.
THIS TEAM WILL:
- Be responsible for developing and communicating the COVID-19 prevention strategy to staff
- Consult with and advise on any human rights or legal requirements
- Be responsible for implementing the guidelines and best practices, ensuring they are followed by the staff and the public
- Assess the current workspace and make recommendations on any necessary changes to comply with current restrictions
- Identify critical resources and perform a risk assessment
- Need to remain informed on changing provincial and federal guidelines
- Meet regularly to assess status and make any revisions
- Make plans to deal with potential second wave
YOUR PLAN SHOULD TAKE INTO ACCOUNT:
- Integration of flexible work policies, identifying who needs to return to work and who can operate remotely (if possible)
- How you bring back staff and what timeframe
- The associated guidelines for your type of business
- Policies for meetings and gatherings, internally and externally
- What to do if an employee calls in sick, especially if they are diagnosed with COVID-19
- What happens as restrictions are relaxed or tightened
- What happens if you are forced to close temporarily
The safety of your staff and customers are the top priority in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. Following these guidelines will help get your workspace ready for your employees.
- Define the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for your workplace and follow any provincial guidelines
- Establish suitable cleaning and sanitization protocols, especially in high traffic areas
- Develop screening protocols and order any necessary supplies
- Create proper distancing arrangements
- Assess shared equipment or supplies and examine options to reduce or eliminate them
- Replace HVAC air filters or clean/disinfect existing filters
- Post internal signage outlining your policies, procedures, and protocols to keep staff alert
- Ensure you are limiting gatherings of people to the current maximum guidelines
- Keep entry points clear to prevent congestion
- Provide hand sanitizer for staff and guests
- Consider hiring a professional cleaner to perform a deep clean
- Mark floors with tape to indicate safe distancing
- Temporarily move employees that normally share spaces or work in close proximity
- Have a designated single entry and exit point
- Temporarily close or limit occupancy in common areas
- Ensure there are adequate supplies in washrooms at all times
- Encourage teleconferencing even after restrictions are relaxed
Your staff must be well informed before and after your re-launch. Regular communication will ensure everyone is aware of changes and how their safety is being addressed. Follow these guidelines to help your team feel confident and ready to get back into the workspace.
- Provide information and training on all changes to policies and procedures
- Educate your employees on physical distancing, proper hygiene, and correct PPE usage
- Provide PPE for all employees. This includes masks, hand sanitizer with a minimum 60% alcohol, masks and face shields if necessary
- Provide cleaning products so employees can keep their workspaces clean and disinfected. This includes disinfecting wipes, hand soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizers
- Screen employees before every shift to ensure they are healthy and they have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19. Employees who are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms must stay home and follow quarantine guidelines.
- Stop handshaking or other physical forms of contact
- Discourage and limit the use of shared equipment
- Limit the number of employees in the office at any given time
- Check the mental health of your employees and provide them with options to talk with professionals
- Keep the lines of communication open and adapt/refine your plan as needed
- Create a rotating schedule of team members who are in the office and working from home
- Consider closing reception at lunch rather than having another employee cover the desk
- Provide electronic documents on new policies and procedures for easy reference
- Ensure employees have up-to-date contact information for all staff
- Encourage staff to download the Alberta Trace Together App to be aware of possible contact with COVID-19
- Remember, PPEs are only effective if worn and used correctly
* Although you are prepared to return to work, some of your employees may not be for various reasons related to; health, daycare, schooling, taking care of a relative, mental health or they are not comfortable with conditions. For matters related to this please see our HR Toolkit or watch our webinar with Ukrainetz Workplace Law Group discussing COVID-19 and the law.
Prepare your business space and educate your customers so everything is ready once you open your doors. Follow these steps in advance and during operations.
- Update your website and social media, clearly identifying any new operational changes
- Post signage at the entrance of your business outlining changes and expectations of your customers
- Require customers to use hand sanitizer upon entering
- Post signage inside your business identifying areas, procedures or policies that are new
- Ensure sales registers are at least six feet apart
- Install screens between staff and customers
- Mark high traffic areas with tape or signage to keep customers and staff six feet apart
- Limit the number of people in your business to the current guidelines
- Disinfect the transaction area after each purchase, including payment machines, counter, bagging area, etc.
- Routinely clean and disinfect all surfaces
- Consider curbside pick-ups, delivery, take-out or drive-through options
- Clearly outline what you expect of your customer. It’s only fair to let them know what is expected of them and what your business is doing to keep everyone safe
- Create disposable menus or post them online
- Discourage the use of common pens or sanitize them between each use
- Encourage customers to use electronic payments and tap functions whenever possible, avoiding the use of cash
- Place garbage cans near entrances to safely contain disposables and reduce litter
- Create a routine cleaning schedule or checklist of frequently touched surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, switches, countertops, handles, desks, keyboards, phones, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.