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Are You Prepared for a Second Wave of Coronavirus?

July 9, 2020

By Sara Sosnowski courtesy SBAM Approved Partner ASE

As employees start returning to work the majority of employers are shifting their focus to initiatives to keep them safe.   According to the latest COVID-19 pulse survey by Willis Towers Watson nearly 40% of employers expect enhancing programs and actions around employee safety to be a priority over the next six months.  The last time this survey was ran in April only 27% of employers expected safety programs to be an important priority.

“Companies want to make employees feel comfortable returning to their workspaces,” said Regina Ihrke, senior director and Wellbeing leader, North America, Willis Towers Watson. “To that end, employers are making employee safety and health a top priority with a wide range of actions to safeguard the work environment and minimize exposure to the virus.”

Some of the more prevalent actions employers are taking to keep employees safe are:

  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks (76%)
  • Develop clear policies and procedures on workplace safety and employee hygiene (71%)
  • Distribute worksite COVID-19 signage and cues (69%)
  • Prepare a stock of vital supplies (68%)
  • Review/update workplace safety protocols (68%)
  • Create a plan for exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace (63%)

While two-thirds of employers have taken action to keep their workplaces clean and create processes to deal with an exposure in the workplace, only one-third have created a plan for subsequent waves of infection in the community. Ventilation is an issue that needs management review.  It has been found that although people have not had contact with others, they still got the virus.  Therefore, it is important that office ventilation is reviewed, even if employees are working from separate offices.  Half of employers reported that they are still in the planning stage regarding any actions to prepare for another wave of COVID-19. 

While most employers might not have an actual plan for handling a second wave, the increase in remote work certainly will make any transition from office back to home more efficient.  27% of employers have changed policies to encourage remote work and for the 69% of employees who can complete their work remotely their employer will provide flexibility to do so for a longer period.  Last year only 11% of employees were working remotely; currently 60% are doing so.  In looking to the future, employers expect 34% of employees to be remote in the first quarter of next year.

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