After several months of working from home to slow the coronavirus spread, many businesses have reopened their doors to the general public. While this is excellent news for the global economy and employees who were otherwise temporarily let go or working reduced hours, the threat of COVID-19 is still present. For the individuals returning to the workplace, the thought of risking their lives for a paycheck lingers.
If you’re nervous about returning to work during a pandemic, you’re not alone. While there is some risk involved in sharing a space with co-workers and customers, this doesn’t mean that you should allow anxiety, fear, and panic to take over. Below are a few simple tactics you can use to ease your concerns about working during the health crisis.
Stock Up on PPE
The best way to protect yourself from the coronavirus is to wear adequate personal protective equipment like face masks and gloves. As some companies are having a hard time acquiring these products, having your own is ideal. Keep them on your person, on your desk, or in your personal locker for easy access. Wear them at all times, remembering to change them periodically and wash your hands.
Practice Social Distancing
Staying at least six feet away from others is another efficient way to safeguard yourself from the coronavirus. While this may not be possible at all times, do your best to keep a safe distance from co-workers and customers throughout the workday.
You spend a great deal of time in your office or workstation. During this time, your hands touch things that could quickly become contaminated. Protect yourself and others by having cleaning products around to sanitize the area regularly. Disinfectant wipes or sanitizing spray and paper towels are all you need to eliminate the problem.
Believe it or not, many of your fears are triggered by things you read in the media. Though a national health crisis shouldn’t be taken lightly, having accurate information can alleviate anxiety. When learning about the coronavirus, check reputable government, health, or news sites for the most accurate information.
Review Employee Policies
Employers have a huge responsibility to protect staff and the general public. Government officials have developed health and safety regulations that companies must comply with to remain operational. After reviewing the guidelines and mandates provided by these organizations, compare it to your employee policy to ease your fears. While each company has its own set of regulations, here are a few to look for:
- Employee Screenings – Every day your employer will require employees to get screened or evaluated for coronavirus symptoms. You’ll be asked a series of questions to discern whether you’re fit to work your shift.
- Employee Testing – Depending on your level of exposure to co-workers and customers, your employer may also insist that you get tested periodically. Everyone may be required to take a rapid antibody test to determine if they’ve had the virus. Others will only have to take a swab test to ensure they don’t have COVID-19.
- Emergency Management Plan – Your employee health and safety policy during the pandemic should also include an emergency management plan. Should an employee or customer contract the virus, what steps will be taken to slow the spread? For starters, the infected employee should be immediately sent home. Any employees who work closely should be tested and quarantined for a few days. Lastly, there should be an efficient way to communicate the outbreak and follow-up to customers to reduce communal spread.
If your employee health and safety policy includes these essential elements, you can take comfort in knowing your employer has done everything possible to keep you and others safe.
You need a paycheck, but going back to work in the middle of the pandemic puts you at risk. While this is a reality that should be considered, you can’t allow those fears to overwhelm you. Though there’s no foolproof way to protect yourself against the coronavirus, the tactics discussed above will reduce your risks and put your mind at ease.