Travel companies need to have contingency plans in place to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. Google in Dublin asked the majority of its 8,000 employees to work from home this week and Travel Republic reported a case of coronavirus and sent the entire office home whilst it “deep cleaned” the office.
Our travel industry clients will need to adjust their working arrangements to lower the probability of the spread of the Coronavirus in the UK. When speaking to a travel client this morning, they were busy ordering hundreds of laptops to enable their staff to work from home on virtual desktops.
Whilst it is a challenge for travel businesses that cannot afford to commit to mandatory shutdowns, remote working may be the only answer. By utilising work chats, conference calls and access to work servers, remote working is a feasible option for most office-based employees and is effective at preventing the spread of illness throughout the workplace.
We, at Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment, are big advocates of flexible working and if there is one lesson that can be learned from this dreadful virus, let’s see this as an opportunity to bring freshness to a dated working environment and modernise our approach to working flexibly. If we allow our teams to work remotely or reduced hours in the office, this habit may indeed stick in the longer term. Hopefully this shift will become the norm.
In the meantime, the ACAS website www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus is useful in terms of outlining good practice and precautionary measures for employers to adopt to protect the health and safety of your employees.
- Appoint a champion internally to keep the workforce updated on actions being taken to reduce the risks of exposure in the workplace.
- HR to ensure that all staff contact, and emergency details are correct.
- Educate managers on how to spot symptoms of Coronavirus and make them aware of any relevant processes including sick pay, and procedures if an employee develops the virus.
- Make sure office spaces have the correct facilities for employees to regularly wash their hands with hot, soapy water, whilst singing “happy birthday” twice! Dry hands thoroughly and use sanitizer before re-entering the office.
A recent survey by the Daily Mail found that half of all those touching the same surfaces as you in the office fail to wash their hands after using the toilet – how disgusting is that! Obviously, you don’t believe everything you read!
- Ensure that free tissues and hand sanitisers are provided and encourage staff to use them.
- Consider if planned to travel for business is essential. This means that they should not require employees to travel to affected areas.
ACAS does explain that employers must ensure that no employee is singled out and not treat anyone differently due to their race or ethnicity.
As we mentioned above, we recommend reducing the concentration of employees by introducing flexible working patterns or remote working. Offer staff the option to take unpaid leave perhaps. In addition:
- Ask employees who feel unwell to take their body temperature daily.
- Try to limit office lifts to 50% capacity.
- Regularly clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces in the office every day.
- Consider not using air conditioning units.
- Ensure all visitors are vetted by reception staff in terms of asking if they have travelled in from affected countries.
- Appoint a champion internally to be responsible for epidemic prevention.
- Avoid sharing phones, computers, keyboards, mice, phone receivers, door handles, poorly-washed cutlery – the list of surfaces susceptible to carrying disease in the workplace is practically endless.
And lastly, and as difficult as it is to remember, avoid handshakes, high fives, kisses on the cheek and hugging. What can we replace this with in the UK?
We welcome suggestions!
How about a big smile?