In the third episode of a video series for business and benefits leaders, Grand Rounds Co-Founder and CEO Owen Tripp went over the top five ways employers can prepare their workforce for a safe return after COVID-19. In this blog post, the first in a three-part series, Owen shares his introduction to the topic as well as the number one item on his top-five list: forecasting.
Getting Ready for the Next Chapter in the Era of COVID-19
We’re now several weeks into what has been a gripping pandemic, and on a more positive note, we’ve managed to get past the first major battle in the war against the novel coronavirus: All across the nation and the globe, we’ve seen curves start to smooth out and healthcare resources become less compromised and under fire.
And while there are still a number of areas that we need to monitor, it’s time to take a look at the second major chapter in the era of COVID-19. This involves the safe return of employees to the workplace.
The first thing every business needs to think about in preparing for the next chapter is forecasting—using data and public policy on the novel coronavirus to know when and how to return to work in as safe and productive a manner as possible.
Using Forecasting to Know When It’s Safe to Reopen the Workplace
Forecasting is going to be the major tool set that we will use to know when it’s time to safely return to work. We need to use data and study policy to understand that we can reopen our physical facilities.
First off, businesses need to understand what and where peak infection rates for the COVID-19 virus are, geography by geography—all the way down to what zip code they’re located in. To this end, I’d like to recommend a tool called covidactnow.org, which supplies the latest information on the number of cases, hospitalizations and tests that have been conducted by city, county and state.
Employing such a tool will help shed light on the progression of this coronavirus in your area or region. As we’re learning, this disease can take a couple of weeks from its first appearance in a geography before we’ll see a rise in hospitalization and testing rates.
Further down the road, it will be important to take into account the prevalence (or lack) of herd immunity to COVID-19 in a particular geography. Businesses will want to understand what the likelihood is, in their respective regions, that people had the virus and were asymptomatic, or were symptomatic but have since recovered from COVID-19. Being able to forecast the size of these two groups, who are both now potentially immune to infection, will also help businesses decide whether it’s indeed safe for employees to go back to work.
Understanding COVID-19 Policy to Help Decide When It’s Time to Return to Work
In addition to understanding the status of peak infection rates and herd immunity, studying policy around the novel coronavirus is a key priority. It’s important to understand the stance of city, county, state and federal health authorities on the question: Is it safe to return to work?
Because it can sometimes be the case that local vs. state vs. federal officials may not agree on the answer to this question, my recommendation is to seek answers at the most local level. This is where authorities will likely be in closest touch with conditions on the ground.
The data you pull from timely, credible sources such as covidactnow.org layered with policy decisions made by your region’s health authorities will serve as the best resources in understanding when it’s time to open up shop.
Stay tuned for the next installment of this three-part blog series on ensuring your employees’ safe return to work in this new era of COVID-19. In Part 2, I plan to go over the critical need for testing and workplace preparedness.