If You Must Work During the Pandemic

Santini, the cycling clothing company I work with in Italy, is based in Bergamo, Lombardy, the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic. To contribute to their community and keep the business going, they have decided to start making face masks to supplement the incredible shortage worldwide of critical medical supplies. This means the factory must remain open and our valuable employees need to come into work every day.

How do you operate a factory, with employees required to produce the goods you make, in an environment where we're all being asked to stay home and avoid contact with each other to delay or prevent the spread of this virus? There is, it turns out, a responsible way. Here are there recommendations for any business that needs to keep the doors open in the middle of the pandemic:

  1. Close all the common areas like coffee rooms or canteens. All employees should use bathrooms, coffee or smoke brakes one by one.
  2. Try to be sure that all the employees work at least 1,5 meters away from each other. If not possible, have them wear a mask and rubber gloves.
  3. Invite all the employees to clean their working space more than once a day with a cleaning product, also their mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc. Especially if the area is used by more than one person. Always clean the surfaces before using them.
  4. Put purell gels around the company.
  5. Have thermometers available for the employees to check their temperature (to be cleaned after each use). If the temperature is higher than 37,5 C, send them back home where they should stay isolated.
  6. We put some very clear signs around the company. Something like: “remember to wash your hands after you have opened the door” (the door handle is a very risky area) or “clean your working space”. There are a lot of these signs around. Simple reminders but useful. We need to change our habits and it’s not easy.
  7. Try to speak as frequently as possible to them explaining the basic rules of this virus. Wash hands frequently with soap, stay away from each other, don’t shake hands, don’t touch your face, if you feel sick don’t come to the office, etc. remind them to avoid going to E.R. If they feel sick. They should call their doctor and stay at home to avoid contagion.
  8. Use smart working with most of the workers who can work from home. We are doing shifts where we have only one employee per area in the office while the others work from home.
  9. Do a general cleaning of the company with the use of ozone cleaning. Tell your cleaning team to be more thorough when cleaning common areas or all those areas that people touch more often (door handles, computer keyboards or mouse, coffee machines, etc. )
  10. Tell them to get changed as soon as they get home. Wash their hands or, better, take a shower before touching other family members
  11. If you have employees with some special pathologies (diabetes above all or any other debilitating sickness) leave the home immediately.
  12. Keep your elderly safely at home.

Sound advice, right? Please feel free to copy and paste or share this list if you or anyone you know is wrestling with how to keep a working business open in a safe and responsible way.

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