We’re heading towards Alert level 1 so let’s get our workplaces ready.

We don’t know exactly what’s involved in Level 1 but we do know that we’re going to have to be careful and vigilant about public health. Always.

COVID-19 won’t be our last pandemic. Pandemic readiness must be part of how we prepare for Alert Level 1 and beyond. Here are some tips to help you prepare.

Tip 1: Distancing

Current physical distancing requirements will relax, but if it’s possible maintain workplace measures to support distancing like:

  • more physical spacing between people 

  • more online and fewer in-person meetings

  • staggered/rostered work schedules

  • smaller programmes/courses

  • contactless deliveries.

Tip 2: Keep up with the hygiene and cleaning routine

This is just good practice and should continue in the workplace.  Maintain signage about coughing/sneezing hygiene and ensure wide access to tissues, soap, sanitiser, masks and other relevant protective gear.

Ensure that shared spaces are thoroughly cleaned each day. If staff take turns with this, develop an agreed checklist of hygiene and cleaning tasks to be achieved.

Tip 3: Contact Tracing

Continue to keep a record of who you are working with and who is entering the workplace. Make sure people understand why and what you’re doing it for.

Contact tracing is important for public health purposes. It’s a key way to track and contain infection outbreaks.

Tip 4: Strengthen remote capability

If you’ve been able to set up your systems to work remotely, find ways to keep it up. Working from home is your back-up plan if there’s another infectious outbreak.

Ensure you’ve got the basics covered:

  • your tech solutions for communication

  • training for staff

  • remote/flexible working arrangements agreed with staff and reflected in their employment agreements

  • your handbook with policies and procedures updated and online for easy access and use by remote staff.

Tip5: Encourage personal responsibility for health

You need everyone on board – everyone you work with – to stay at home if they are sick.

Communicate this consistently.

Action it by:

  • allowing sick or special leave when staff report minor – serious symptoms of illness

  • allowing staff to work remotely so they can self-isolate whenever they are reasonably concerned about exposure to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms.

The costs of these measures will be less than the cost of a future lock down. If you’re worried they will be mis-used, make sure your other policies dealing with conduct, performance expectations and disciplinary action are fit for purpose.

Tip 6: Review and respond

COVID-19 economic impacts are predicted to broaden so keep an eye on what’s happening for those you serve. It may be necessary to re-purpose resourcing or to scale an activity you do up or down to become more responsive and viable in the post-COVID 19 world.

Need help with that? Check out the range of government support available.

Tip 7: Take special care of people-facing and vulnerable staff

Monitor and address risks to:

In addition to controls like masks and screens, encourage regular testing of your front-facing staff and essential workers for COVID-19 and that they get the flu shot.

Tip 8: Improve business continuity planning

We’re all in this together and stronger for it.

Improve your business continuity planning by making arrangements now with others operating in related areas about sharing resources, staffing and volunteers, obtaining supplies etc during a pandemic outbreak.

Tip 9: Stay on top of public health information

COVID-19 has reminded us we are all in the business of public health.

We need to stay on top of public health data so we can reliably identify hazardous activities and the risks and develop controls in a responsive way. Stay informed and keep your staff and others informed.