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Preventing and Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace

Michelle Gardner, Appian
November 24, 2020

As many countries face another wave of COVID-19 cases, organizations around the world are planning new ways to keep their workforces safe. Leading companies have made huge strides in managing coronavirus while keeping their workplaces open. But despite how far we've come, many employees still doubt that their organizations are ready to respond to COVID-19.

"Employees' confidence that their companies had a plan for how to manage the risk associated with the coronavirus stood at 67% in the US [in April 2020]Ö," writes Forrester in a recent report, Operationalize Your Return-To-Work Strategy: The Technology You Need. "Now that employer plans must adapt to the prolonged lockdown and restrictions that are likely to persist, confidence appears to be waning. It's dropped to 61% in the US; although this is a small drop, it's statistically significant."

How can you boost employee confidence? Be completely transparent about how you're not only preventing the spread of coronavirus, but also preparing to handle COVID-19 incidents as they occur. Follow these recommendations to tackle both sides.

Preventing the Spread

Start by screening employees, visitors, customers, and contractors before they come to your workplace. With a simple web or mobile interface, everyone can submit and update their personal information, including health and risk data required by government regulations and corporate policies.

"Employers should look for vendors that offer customizable, highly secure, and HIPAA-compliant COVID-19 screening programs that adhere to regional privacy laws, support necessary languages, and integrate with existing authentication and building access systems," writes Forrester.

They also recommend looking for solutions that "integrate with symptom checkers; track reported employee health status and visitor requests; support customized workflows, such as visitor request management and occupational health recontact tasks; and provide reporting tools to support real-time staffing decisions."

Responding to COVID-19 In the Workplace

"Many public health agencies are woefully unprepared to facilitate contact tracing," writes Forrester. "Employers must fill this gap by establishing programs to identify and notify employees who have been in close proximity to coworkers with COVID-19 and test and isolate affected employees."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released recommendations on using case management tools to slow the spread of COVID-19. These solutions can help with contact tracing and isolating anyone who may have been exposed. Unlike automated proximity-based contact tracing tools that are unreliable when tracking the spread of the virus, and often seen as overly intrusive[1], manual contact-tracing tools that rely on case management are more accurate and encourage consistent participation across your workforce.

"Manual contact-tracing vendors facilitate the process of interviewing recently diagnosed employees to identify coworkers who need to be notified and then manage anonymous notification workflows," writes Forrester. "[These solutions] are ideal for employers that can assign a team of FTEs to investigate employee exposure," writes Forrester.

Your Unified Response Hub

"Employers need more than just a good plan to bring their workforces back safely," Forrester writes. "Healthcare technology and services providers are creating a market to support the transition back to work."

Appian Workforce Safety is the only solution with a unified, automated, and flexible approach for safely returning to onsite work. You get a single response hub to support contact tracing, case management, health monitoring, COVID testing, and capacity and visitor management. We know that time is of the essence, which is why Workforce Safety can be deployed in hours and is configurable for whatever comes next. And it's all available for a low, fixed price.

Find out why Volkswagen Group of Americas, Univision, and Mizuho trust Appian Workforce Safety to reopen and stay open.

[1] Crocker, Andrew, and Bennet Cyphers. "The Challenge of Proximity Apps For COVID-19 Contact Tracing."