Company Communications about Coronavirus
With the COVID-19 outbreak, employees at this time, specifically need to hear about contingency plans their companies are implementing, personal hygiene, and travel precautions, and remote work. Companies should also instruct employees not to come to work if they exhibit symptoms of the virus.
KEY FACTS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS
- COVID-19 was declared to have natural sources due to high similarities between the virus and that found in bats and pangolins. It is a pathogenic viral infection that is highly transmittable, and its first cases were recorded in Wuhan, China.
- However, after making genomic comparisons for the COVID-19 virus, scientists found evidence that it is due to the recombination of two different viruses. As such, the origin of the COVID-19 remains unclear.
- There is no available vaccine for the COVID-19. While scientists are working on a cure for the disease, developing a vaccine that will be safe and effective for humans is not feasible now.
- It is expected that a remedy will be available after 12 months or more.
AVERAGE RATE OF SPREAD
- The virus is transmitted in the same manner as the common cold, i.e., via droplets, from person to person. As such, people could get infected when an infected person coughs or sneezes within 6 ft. from them.
- Currently, the average transmission rate of the virus is from one person to at least two others. There have been cases where one person infects more than two people, but it is rare.
- Social distancing has been proposed as the best way to protect against the COVID-19. The term typically involves staying at home, avoiding crowds, and keeping away from physical contact with people.
- Also, frequent and thorough hand washing could help to minimize the risk of getting infected.
- While certain types of face masks, such as the N95, can be a source of protection for health care workers, the public utilizes lightweight surgical facemasks, which are not usually tightly fitted. As such, they might not hold out against very tiny droplets carrying the virus, which could enter the nose or eyes.
- There is a slight risk of contracting the virus through products and packaging shipped from other countries for days or weeks over ambient temperatures as the virus does not seem to last very long on surfaces. There have also been no recorded cases of such. However, travelers returning from international locations that have ongoing cases of the COVID-19 are at high risk of exposure.
- Older people and those with chronic diseases are at a higher risk of being severely affected by the COVID-19.
INTERNAL COMMUNICATION PLAN
- Companies should develop an internal communication plan, which is "a process for reaching employees through combinations of emails, intranet postings, flyers/ posters, leader talking points, FAQs, or a website situation room."
- The plan would aim to establish a way of relaying essential messages and providing regular updates, as well as receiving feedback from employees through a reliable process.
STATE THE FACTS
- This process of communication involves providing employees with accurate information from authoritative resources such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as State and County health departments.
- The messages should provide details/clear instructions on what employees who suspect that they might have been exposed to the COVID-19 should do.
Practice Personal Hygiene
- Posters promoting hand-washing should be placed around the workspace in view of employees.
- They should be informed about the importance of thoroughly washing their hands and encouraged to do so for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
- Companies should educate employees about the symptoms of COVID-19, and precautions they can take for themselves to prevent the spread.
- They should be told to do routine cleaning of the spaces, wiping down surfaces that are frequently touched in the workplace.
- Employees should be told to frequently clean their hands using a 60-95% alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Posters should also be put up around the workplace to promote good respiratory hygiene, such as the use of masks and tissue, to inhibit the spread of the virus.
Avoid Non-essential Traveling
- Employees should be encouraged not to travel and to consult before going on trips.
- They should be informed of certain steps to take if they are planning to travel and to be aware if they begin to experience symptoms of the virus.
- Employees who become sick while traveling should be told to inform their supervisor, and report to the nearest healthcare provider.
- Companies should share advice from public health authorities with their workers about travel and steps to report the illness.
- Travel restrictions are changing daily, and employers should keep themselves and staff up-to-date with these changes.
Work From Home if You Can
- Employees should be informed that age and underlying illnesses may put persons at a higher risk for serious illness with COVID-19.
- They should be encouraged to work from home wherever possible.
- Communicate with employees what working from home means, and the company property they will need to be able to do so.
- Public health authorities are advising companies to instruct employees to work from home. This is done to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in offices, as well as in other public spaces and methods of transit.
- Employers should constantly remind their workers about the symptoms of COVID-19, instructing them not to come to work if they experience any.
- Companies should also make workers aware that steps will be put in place in situations where an employee may have a sick relative they need to care for during the outbreak.
Business and Employee Contingency Plans
- With so many things changing, employers should communicate with their employees what should be done in case the outbreak worsens.
- Businesses must develop a contingency and continuity plan, preparing workers for the worst-case scenario. This should indicate what will happen in the event that the business becomes short-staffed or is unable to open.
- Plans should be developed with health organizations. Employees should be advised of the steps being taken for them in the case of an emergency.
- At a time like this, employees need to be confident in their company’s ability to handle the situation. They should be informed of the steps their company is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and promote their safety.
- It is advised that employers are transparent with workers when communicating the risks that come with COVID-19.
Do Not Come To Work if You Show Symptoms
- Employees should be advised not to come to work if they show symptoms and go to a healthcare provider.
- Signs and posters supporting this should be put all over the workplace as a reminder.
- Workers should be instructed not to come to work if they have any signs of a fever or cough. They should be free of symptoms for more than 24 hours before reporting back to work.
- Employees should be reassured that a health note is not needed if they are sick.
- Persons arriving sick to work should be separated from employees and sent back home immediately.
- They should be made aware that in staying home when experiencing symptoms, they will stop the possible spread of the virus to other employees or customers.
- Employers should inform their personnel what to do if they test positive for the virus. Fellow employees who may have come in contact with the virus will have to be informed, and the necessary protocol taken.
To conduct this research, we visited the websites of government organizations, law firms, and magazines. The World Health Organization and The Center for Disease Control provided us with all the messages used in this paper. These surrounded the topics of hygiene, remote work, symptoms, contingency plans, and travel precautions.
The law firm, Sidley provided us with information surrounding workplace hygiene, remote work, symptoms, and employee support. Fisher Phillips zoned in on employees traveling and remote work, providing answers to questions many employers may have at this time. Magazines Forbes and Time, provided information about implementing contingency plans, and employers encouraging remote work to limit the virus spread.