Recently, Petra Coach presented a webinar, “Now What?!: How to Mitigate Risk in the Workplace Should Someone Test Positive for COVID-19” featuring Paul Binsfeld and his team at Company Nurse.

The content is invaluable to leaders during this unprecedented time.

You can find the full recording here.

To augment the recording, we noted takeaways and tips from the presentation.

Now, more than ever, the world is examining how companies treat their employees in times of crisis. By providing your employees with a process and plan to address COVID-19 and possible exposures, you’re caring for both your organization and your workforce.

In this webinar, ​Company Nurse’s Clinical Nurse Manager Cherri Lindquist, Chief Technology Officer Henry Svendblad, and President Paul Binsfeld discuss how to protect your workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Top Takeaways

  • Make the assumption that someone will be infected. Have a plan now and be prepared, so you aren’t reacting to it in the moment.
  • CEOs should be communicating at least once per day to calm the fears of employees.
  • If you have an employee who is symptomatic, or has any symptoms at all, still separate them.
  • Focus on communication. Your team is looking to you as the leader.
  • Make sure you have complete documentation (who, what, when, why, where) for everything involved in an exposure incident.
  • Learn about the symptoms of COVID-19 and make sure to ask employees how they are feeling, both mentally and physically.

What Are We Dealing With?

Learn about the symptoms of COVID-19 and the emotional impact on your employees.

Symptoms might differ from general cold symptoms. Influenza A is also going around right now and just because they have these symptoms does not mean they have COIVD-19.

  • Fever of 100.4
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe body aches

Use the CDC as a resource for what to look for, what to do, and who to call.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Staff

  • Wipe down high traffic areas at least twice a day, more if possible: doorknobs, coffee pots, water coolers, etc.
  • Remind your team how to wash their hands: If you are not washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, you aren’t washing your hands.
  • Communicate to your employees that they should let you know if they are feeling sick and make sure they are isolating.
  • Use proper cough etiquette. Cough and sneeze into a sleeve. If you use a tissue, only use it once and throw it away.
  • If you have someone who is sick, they should be staying home. If that is not possible, they should be in their own space.
  • Work remotely, if possible. If you are not able to work remotely, like manufacturing or construction companies, the environment should be disinfected every 4 hours. For example, if you work a 12-hour shift, disinfect the area 3 times. If you have access to gloves, use them.
  • Use the CDC recommendations. Not only protect yourself, protect those who come behind you.

Fearful Employees

The news is creating fear and anxiety for your employees around their health and finances. If a person is emotionally stressed, they are more likely to get sick. Make sure you are providing for your employees in this area as well. Resources like access to a mental health counselor and information about financial assistance are things your team may not think about.

If You Have to Enter a Client’s Home

You don’t know what you are walking into. Keep a safe distance until this is over and follow CDC rules. If it’s a job that can’t wait, wear gloves, don’t touch your face, and wash your face often. If the customer is sick, don’t be there if possible. Do the best that you can in extenuating circumstances. When you leave that home, take off your clothes and put them directly in the washer before you do or touch anything.

Other Tips

Encourage employees to make time for themselves. Work/life balance can be more unbalanced now. They should set “on” and “off” hours, and encourage them to find balance and go outside. That message coming from the CEO or leader is important.

The CDC page is updated almost daily. Save this page as a favorite and choose one team member to be the person who checks it often. Be prepared for questions your employees might have and have a plan for if/when you have a positive case in your business.

Testing is determined by medical providers only. If they are exposed to a positive confirmed person, and are now experiencing mild fevers, they may not be able to get a test. They are testing severe symptoms only. Still separate them, though, if they are sick whatsoever. If they go home, clean and sanitize their workspace.

Resources for Employers

Understand preventive measures and what actions to take should someone in your organization test positive for COVID-19.

If employees test positive, you do need to notify those who were in contact with them. Depending on your work environment, you may need to close specifically and decontaminate it. OSHA has specific details on how to. In a manufacturing environment, get everyone out of that space and disinfect the entire area. Identify anyone who had DIRECT contact or prolonged contact and quickly notify. Self-quarantine for 14 days. 30 minutes is a prolonged amount of time. Monitor symptoms twice per day and make a record of it. Eliminate all unnecessary travel.

Educate Employees ahead of time and know how to respond. Provide support to all staff – the will be fearful – educate and minimize. We don’t know when we’re sick. If you know you are positive and you’ve come in contact with that person, notify them as soon as possible so they are aware they may be spreading it.

Make the assumption that someone will be infected. Have a plan now and be prepared so you aren’t reacting to it in the moment.

Mental health is important. If you have isolated team members, make sure they are taken care of. If they can’t get out to get groceries or lunch, assign someone who can help. If you aren’t mentally well, it’s hard to

CEOS should be communicating at least once per day to calm the fears of employees. They more you can communicate, the better it is for your team. Be as proactive as possible.


Q: If an employee tests positive, how do we notify customers or vendors?

A: It depends on the business – if you are 1-on-1 sales business, notify the customer. That is harder to do if you own a grocery store. How to communicate if someone has contracted the virus to your team is important. Reach out to your HR manager ahead of time to develop how you will communicate this. Addressing that we will not be placing blame and that you’re a team and family facing this together. Get guidance from an employment attorney on how to best notify people as well. With communicable diseases, you need to be able to share with your team and HIPPA is making specific legislation now about COIVD-19. Stay up-to-date on FMLA as well. Legislation is changing daily at both the state and federal levels.

Q: What about boxes and deliveries?

A: When you open packages and you want to wear gloves, you can. Take items out and then take the box to the trash or recycle immediately. Wipe down contents and wash your hands immediately afterward. If you are washing items from the grocery story, make sure they are completely dry before you put them away.

Q: What does disinfecting actually mean?

A: Check for labels that say ‘kills 99.9% of viruses’ for bleach sprays. If you are DIYing, simple bleach/water mix will work. Check Google for a recipe and don’t make it too strong.


Technology Checklist

The tools you need to allow for business continuity.

Remote work is very important to all of us right now. Optimizing your technology for remote work will lower your ongoing IT support costs and boost productivity. You can actually simplify your IT environment and architecture. To simplify your environment, even if just partially for administrative or operations staff, consider the following:

Actions to Consider

  • BYOD – Bring Your Own Device; not just smart phones
  • “Zero Trust” Security: Single sign on; password vaults; multi-factor authentication; web access only; only one password for each employee
  • Protecting your servers from hackers while employees are working from home is important.
  • Architecture, (i.e. SaaS first, Cloud First model): Focus on your core competencies, not management of infrastructure. If you cannot find a SaaS service that works, make sure you are able to use a cloud.
  • Communication Platforms: (i.e. Slack, Teams, Zoom) People still need to see each other so make sure your team has cameras so they can remain connected visually.
  • Be mindful of your culture. Be deliberate about keeping your rhythms that happen at work going. Plan theme days – keep the fun in your culture.