COVID-19: Your Role as an Employer

COVID-19: Your Role As An Employer

The COVID-19 pandemic has gradually become a global one. Spreading from country to country and affecting or finding its way into every single daily human process and routine, including the workplace.

Already, a lot of companies locally and internationally have had to change their work pattern and process to adjust and help curb the spread of the pandemic. The world health organization and international and even local bodies have advised Social Distancing and many other safety precautions.

Since the workplace is a place where people spend most of their time, the workplace has an important role to play in curbing this pandemic.

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

When someone who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces or objects – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If they are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19 they can catch it by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them. In other words, COVID-19 spreads in a similar way to the flu. Most persons infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. The risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart, and lung disease are also more vulnerable with high severity.

Source – WHO (World Health Organization)

The question now is, as an employer of labour, what is your role to help curb the spread of the pandemic in the absence of a known and potent vaccine?

ENCOURAGE REMOTE WORK

Looking on the bright side, COVID-19 could be an eye-opener for the workplace in general into the possibilities and the efficiency of remote work. Encourage your staff to work from home if they can. Provide need equipment and support to facilitate this process.

In a scenario where you cannot afford to work remotely, the following will suffice.

MAKE SURE YOUR WORKPLACE IS CLEAN AND HYGIENIC 

Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Surfaces are the fastest ways a virus can spread when touched by employees and customers.

Encourage regular and consistent thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers by providing washing equipment, sanitizers, and disinfectants to easily accessible places in the office.

Make use of posters and office sign items if you have to, and also brief your staff (at least once daily) about the status of the pandemic an also or look to WHO’s Situation Report to get the latest news and advice.

IF THERE IS EVER A CASE OF COVID-19

Develop a contingency plan of what to do if an employee shows symptoms within the NCDC or WHO listed symptoms of COVID-19.

The plan should entail putting such employee in a place where they are isolated from others in the workplace, totally reducing contact with such person and contacting the right authorities.

Don’t forget to do this without stigmatization, discrimination and the spread of panic.

You can also talk to your local health authorities (NCDC) handling the pandemic about your initial plan and as for the help with the approved guide.

SOFT SKILLS

The modern workplace is a living organism that is constantly evolving, and the only way to stay relevant as an organisation is to keep abreast of industry trends and implement programs that promote growth and efficiency within the organisation.

We have been looking at 2020 workplace trends, three weeks ago, we considered Trend #2, Remote work. We determined that remote work is rapidly gaining acceptance in workplaces, especially in Information Technology companies. We concluded that promotes work-life balance and increases productivity while cutting cost for employees as well as the organisation. 

The third 2020 Workplace trend we want to consider is the development of soft skills.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education, 2007, Soft skills are a cluster of productive personality traits that characterize one’s relationships in a milieu. 

Soft skills include social graces, communication abilities, language skills, personal habits, cognitive or emotional empathy, time management, teamwork and leadership traits. 

Soft skills cover three key functional elements: 

  1. social skills
  2. people skills 
  3. personal career attributes 

These skills are crucial for today’s workplace as they complement hard or technical skills. Soft skills have become a major criterion for employment as well as advancement in an organisation.  

An employee’s soft skill is a crucial part of their contribution to the overall success of their organization, especially if such an organisation deals with customers on a face-to-face basis. A critical success factor for an organisation like this is the ability to promote activities that help employees develop these skills through team-building activities and wellness enhancing programs. 

Soft skills

The following is a top ten list of soft skills compiled by Eastern Kentucky University 

  1. Communication – oral speaking capability, written, presenting, listening, clear speech & writing.
  2. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, gracious, says please and thank you, respectful.
  3. Flexibility – adaptability, willing to change, lifelong learner, accepts new things, adjusts, teachable.
  4. Integrity – honest, ethical, high morals, has personal values, does what’s right.
  5. Interpersonal skills – nice, personable, sense of humour, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, has self-control, patient, sociability, warmth, social skills.
  6. Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident.
  7. Professionalism – businesslike, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
  8. Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
  9. Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
  10. Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

Although difficult to quantify, soft skills play a critical role in employee performance and productivity. They help facilitate human connections needed for high-performance and efficiency in the workplace. 

Remote work

2020 Workplace Trends #2 Remote Work

Some weeks ago, we talked about training and upskilling as 2020’s #1 workplace trend. We also highlighted both micro and macro upskilling and concluded that talents remain and are loyal to organizations that take their training and development needs into consideration and make adequate provision for it.

This week, we are looking at the second workplace trend for 2020 – Remote Work.

Remote work is on the rise.

You may have heard some people refer to themselves as Digital Nomads, or mention that they are working or would be working remotely. The idea of working at a location other than one’s corporate office has been practicable since the last decade but is only recently becoming pervasive and 2020 will see it in the mainstream. 

The substantial advancement of multiple facets of workplace technology has given remote work an upper hand. Besides, the rise of new generations is impelling firms to redefine the modalities of work, and the odds are clearly in favour of remote working.” – Finance Online, 2019.

What is remote work?

Simply put, it means working at a location that isn’t your office, it is a work style that allows people to work outside a traditional office environment or corporate office setting. Remote work hinges on the notion that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be carried out efficiently.

Remote work eliminates productive time wasted commuting to and from work every day to sit at a designated desk or workspace to work; Instead, individuals can execute their tasks, smash their targets and exceed expectations from any location at all. 

Remote work gives professionals the flexibility to order their days in such a way that their professional and personal lives can be meaningfully experienced while coexisting in a way that one complements the other instead of impeding it as popular opinion erroneously suggests.

How to work remotely

“There has been a cultural paradigm shift in what society deems to be an appropriate workplace – and remote work has capitalized off of that newfound freedom.” – Finance Online.

The beauty of remote work is being able to choose from a wide range of options, the one that makes the most sense to an individual and aids their personal and professional goals. It also gives individuals the freedom to set their schedules to work at a time they are most productive.

Professionals can work remotely on workdays and only visit the office to attend in-person meetings and strategy sessions. On the other hand, certain days of the week could be set apart for talents to work remotely, maybe two or three days a week.

There is also the option of working out of coworking spaces which essentially act as hubs of technology, productivity and community. Coworking spaces provide a platform for networking, learning, sharing and business opportunities.

Benefits of remote work

Remote work offers professionals a more flexible lifestyle in which they can maximize every moment they have to do better. It also promotes better health and well-being; commute to work and back could be exhausting, to say the least, remote work provides recourse for exhaustion brought upon by daily commute and time spent in traffic. it saves money, especially because you no longer bear the cost of commute. It encourages employees to be resourceful, proactive and expand their knowledge base. It provides escape from office politics as well as a toxic work environment.

Remote work does not only benefit the employees; it also benefits the employer as it saves cost by reducing company overheads leading to more revenue.