Helping Your Work Team Stay Healthy During COVID-19
Whether your work team is considered essential and still coming into an office or manufacturing facility or they’re working from home during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, there are a number of things employers can do to help them stay healthy. We’ve included tips for both physical and mental health along with a downloadable PDF health guide you can share with your team members.
For On-Site Team Members
- Try to organize work areas in a way that allows employees to stand 6 feet apart.
- Be sure there is plenty of soap in all bathrooms and provide hand sanitizer in break rooms and near employee work stations.
- Clean all bathrooms, break rooms, and kitchens daily.
- Clean high-touch surfaces, such as copy machine touchpads, door key code locks, etc., twice a day.
- Provide sanitizing wipes for employees to be able to clean work areas, keyboards, and phones on a daily basis.
- Have policies in place that require sick employees to say home without penalties. Make sure employees understand sick leave policies and the symptoms that would require them to stay home.
If you already have an on-site employee health clinic, occupational health nurses and providers can be valuable resources to help companies and employees with questions about safety, symptoms, and courses of action.
Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness nurses can help screen your team members and advise them concerning whether they should work or stay at home based on symptoms and exposure risks. Nurses can also help advise companies about steps to take to protect employees in light of the latest recommendations from health experts.
Learn more about customized health and wellness services offered by Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness. Three clinics are available for companies which do not have on-site clinics, as well as an array of health screenings, substance abuse screenings, OSHA compliance services, DOT physicals, wellness classes, and more.
For Team Members Working From Home
Working from home helps team members lower their risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. It also requires some focus and planning in order to stay mentally and physically healthy and productive. These tips can help employees be more productive, cope with stress, and lower the risk of becoming ill.
Feel free to share the tips below with your team:
Tips for Physical and Mental Health While Working from Home
- Create a designated space for your work
If possible, set up a desk or table in an area of the house away from the main traffic. While working at the kitchen table may seem like a logical choice, it’s too easy to stop and grab frequent snacks or break to talk to family members. You’ll feel more focused and productive with a designated space.
- Try for a chair, table, and monitor height that offers proper ergonomic alignment
Your elbows should form a 90-degree angle for typing. You may also need to have a separate monitor from your laptop or a bluetooth keyboard in order to get a screen at a height that doesn’t require you to look down, placing strain on your neck and shoulders.
- Get a phone charger for your work area
Having a phone charger that’s just for your work space will prevent you from searching the house for one each day. If you are low on outlet spaces, a wireless charging pad is an easy way to keep your phone beside you without fishing for charging cords that have fallen to the floor.
Exercise can boost your immune system, increase energy levels, and help you manage stress. If you can exercise outside, you’ll have the added benefit of daytime exposure to sunlight, which can help with sleep. Some local parks still allow access to walking and hiking trails, or try a walk or bike ride in your neighborhood.
Many local gyms are now offering online or live stream classes, often with a free trial class. Two possibilities include Proehlific Park in Greensboro and Downtown Yoga and Barre in Burlington. You can also find free apps and workouts. Down Dog is offering yoga, barre, high-intensity interval training, and 7-minute full body workouts on a free trial basis through May 1. Les Mills offers a 14-day free trial with access to more than 800 workouts, including options for kids.
Cone Health also offers a library of virtual workout videos.
- Limit how often you check the news
It’s good to stay informed, especially about local updates for your community, but too much news can feed fear and fuel anxiety. Decide on a certain time of day to check the news and limit the session to 20 or 30 minutes. This can also apply to social media, where many people are posting news articles and updates.
- Stay in touch with friends and family
Having a regular time to call, Skype, or FaceTime family and friends can help reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. Find a balance between sharing concerns but also making time to talk about something other than coronavirus. It’s important to share stories, laugh, and focus on other things as well. There are also many ways to set up a video chat with a group to help break the isolation.
Many people feel like they can still visit neighbors or have a few friends over while staying at home. However, this practice can undo all the days of working at home and only going out for essentials. You are not only exposed to your friends, you are also exposed to anyone they or their family members have been in contact with.
One epidemiologist explained it this way. “If your son visits his girlfriend, and you later sneak over for coffee with a neighbor, your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker that your son’s girlfriend’s mother shook hands with,” says Jonathan Smith, epidemiologist at Yale University School of Public Health, in a recent letter to his community.
- Steps to Take if You Get Sick
If you are sick with any type of illness, call your doctor’s office to see if you can arrange a virtual visit or sign up for an e-Visit through Cone Health. Many offices, including all Cone Health Medical Group providers, are offering video and telephone visits. If the doctor thinks you need an in-person visit or lab work, they can arrange that. Anyone can also arrange for an e-Visit through Cone Health. Learn more about coronavirus precautions and e-Visits. For those with coronavirus symptoms, Cone Health is offering an online self-assessment tool and free e-Visits. For the e-Visit, you will complete a questionnaire online which will be reviewed by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. You will then receive a message back with information and care instructions within a few hours.