As novel coronavirus Covid-19 cases continue to multiply throughout North America, it’s time to plan for how it may affect your business, your employees, and your clients. The situation is changing quickly, so stay informed through reputable news and public health sources.
Covid-19 causes a variety of symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, and fever. More severe cases can lead to viral pneumonia. There is no vaccine and no antiviral medications have been developed for it. Luckily, the majority of those infected will not have life-threatening complications. But the virus is highly contagious and spreads quickly and easily.
From the Top
The Centers for Disease Control has issued interim guidance for businesses and employers. The CDC recommends actively encouraging sick employees to stay home. This may mean implementing flexible sick-leave policies, and plans for potential absenteeism, including:
- Creating flexible sick-leave policies that do not penalize employees for staying home when sick
- Not requiring a healthcare provider’s note for sick employees — doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals may be too busy for that
- Allow your employees to stay home to care for sick family members
- Give your office staff the flexibility to work from home
- If an employee becomes ill at work, they should be separated and sent home
According to the CDC, it is possible for a person to be infected by touching a surface with the virus on it, and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. Within your office and facilities, emphasize hand-washing and good hygiene, as well as increased attention to cleaning frequently touched surfaces including doorknobs, phones, keyboards, countertops, workstations, and the restrooms. Provide disposable wipes and hand sanitizer, if available.
At the Job Site
Equip your field crew with cleaning supplies, disposable wipes, and hand sanitizer for use in vehicles and on-site. Review good hygiene practices for your field team and have your lead carpenter or project manager enforce them for your team and all subs on site. And it’s an ugly job, but designate someone to be responsible for ensuring the surfaces on portable toilets are clean at the job site — contact with fecal matter from an infected person may transmit the virus. So provide disinfecting hand wipes.
Give your project manager or lead carpenter discretion to send sick workers and subs home. Because remodeling takes place in people’s homes, you should require your clients to let you know of any illnesses in the family. Work will have to stop if anyone in the household has to be quarantined in the home.
For the complete CDC instructions, access the document here: CDC.gov.
Review Your Insurance Policies
Take some time to review your insurance policies — your own health insurance, that of your employees, and your business policy. In the case of Covid-19, talk to your agent about your business interruption insurance. Because you work in people’s homes, it’s not only your employees missing work that could cause delays.
Check Your Cash Flow
Any disruption in your job schedules mean fewer payments coming in. We advise having enough liquid assets available equal to between four to six month’s worth of overhead — something to get you through in case of a dry spell or an emergency. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to get the company through a lean period, it’s time to get your financial house in order. You may want to reinforce that safety net with a line of credit — read Victoria’s article on choosing between a line and a loan to use if necessary.
Have a Business Continuity Plan
Once the threat of illness has passed, you need to be able to operate your business and move forward quickly. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has great information for businesses you can use to create an extensive plan. Here is a PDF that will help you prepare and tailor a plan that works for you.
Don’t Panic, But Stay Aware
Panic is contagious — maybe more so than the virus. Open communication about changes in your sick leave policies, and understanding from everyone involved, will help inform and empower your team.