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  • March 31, 2020 4:37 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Leadership Matters
    by Joan Baldwin

    This week I had “lunch” with my friend Franklin Vagnone, president of Winston Salem’s Old Salem Village in North Carolina. Frank had finished his first virtual (and emotionally draining) meeting at 8:00 am, so for him noon felt like late afternoon. As someone who was a museum leader in Philadelphia and then New York City through 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, he’s not unfamiliar with leading in crisis. But like many museum leaders in the age of COVID-19, his Thursday began with planning for temporary layoffs for hourly staff. The layoffs are necessary because they allow staff to collect unemployment until the country emerges from the pandemic and Old Salem rights itself. Vagnone isn’t alone. Last week layoffs were announced by the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, Seattle’s Science Center, and Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, Science Center and Please Touch Museum, in addition to Colonial Williamsburg, San Francisco’s MOMA and undoubtedly many more. Sadly, the group most affected is the most vulnerable: part-time employees, many without benefits. As another friend put it, “Suddenly work is like trying to wash the dishes only the kitchen sink is missing and the water’s turned off.”

    AAM’s President and CEO Laura Lott estimates that since the crisis began, museums collectively have lost $33 million a day. And whether planned or not, the museum world responded with 33,000 messages to Congress supporting AAM’s crisis request for $4 billion dollars, an amount which sent Fox and Friends into gales of laughter as if the arts weren’t a business, and a home-grown one at that. In the end, thanks to AAM’s tireless work, museums and arts organizations were included in the bill although not at levels that make them whole. You can find a full description here, including the full bill if you’re so inclined.

    So what should you as a museum person, leader, or organization do?

    As an individual: 

      • Take care of yourself and your loved ones.
      • Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands. COVID-19 dislikes soap and water.
      • If you’ve been laid off, don’t delay, apply for unemployment.
      • If you’re working from home, there are many sites to support you, Here are a few good articles from last week: The Muse; Museum 2.0The Atlantic.
      • Stop looking at your screen. Take a walk. Do the reading you always meant to do, but put off.
      • Plan for the future. Try to imagine, what things you want to keep and nurture, and what things you’ll change in a post-COVID-19 world.

    As leader of a team or a department:

      • Take care of your people. This will end, and re-hiring is costly. Protect staff in whatever way you can. If temporary layoffs while maintaining health insurance works for your museum, do it.
      • Make sure everyone–board members, staff and volunteers–has the tools to communicate. Help them learn to stay in touch.
      • Sort out communication methods that are most equitable. Offer tutorials to everyone, and encourage your team or department to talk with one another on a regular basis.
      • Treasure your IT and social media team and build bridges between them and your program.
      • Talk to your community, whether through email, Instagram or Facebook let them know you’re there.

    As a Museum Leader:

      • Thank your Congressional representatives.
      • If you’re not an AAM member, join now. Its COVID-19 information is worth the individual membership if you can’t afford more. Ditto your regional museum service organization.
      • Take care of your people. This will end, and re-hiring is costly. Protect staff in whatever way you can. If temporary layoffs, while maintaining health insurance works for your museum, do it. Don’t let HR make decisions because that’s the way it’s always done. We moved out of the world we knew about two weeks ago.
      • Think about your organization’s virtual life. If you can create “A Minute with the Curator” or “A Walk with the Farm Horse” videos they may generate an audience that will outlive the virus. We’ve all watched Tim, the head of security at the National Cowboy Museum. Perhaps you have someone on your staff who’s equally charming and authentic, but never heard from.
      • If you have under 500 employees, you’re eligible for a small business loan to make payroll or pay health insurance.
      • Remember in the midst of the bleakness to have hope. I’ll close where I began with Frank’s video to his community.

    See Original Post

  • March 31, 2020 4:28 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Forbes

    With untold numbers of employees suddenly working from home, videoconferencing has promptly become the go-to method for running meetings and communicating with staff.

    But if you’ve ever sat through a poorly-run videoconference meeting (and who among us hasn’t endured dozens of those), you know that simply purchasing the latest videoconferencing platform is not a panacea.

    Fortunately, there are four simple techniques that you can implement today that will immediately improve your videoconferences.

    Technique #1: Everyone Must Use Video

    This might seem like an obvious point, but the majority of videoconferences have at least a few people who eschew video and only use audio. Unless there’s a serious technical glitch, you should require everyone on the call to activate their webcam.

    When only a few people use video, it quickly erodes the team’s cohesion. Most of the folks who activated their video will be thinking “It’s not fair that Bob isn’t using video,” or “How come I have to be on video but Sally doesn’t?” or “I know Pat’s not really paying attention and that’s why they didn’t activate their webcam.”

    When people are already stressed, and more likely to engage in negative thinking, those are not thoughts that you want to encourage on your team.

    Technique #2: Everyone Must Use A Headset

    Most people log into a videoconference with their laptop and simply use the computer’s built-in microphone and speaker. And while that’s certainly cheaper than buying an external headset, it makes for a painful videoconference.

    If you’ve ever heard disruptive echoes, reverb or someone who sounds like they’re speaking in the middle of an airplane hangar, it’s often caused by two factors. First, the built-in microphones on most laptops and computers are low quality, especially compared to what you’ll find on even fairly inexpensive headsets and external microphones. In fact, if you have kids who play video games, it’s quite likely that they have better equipment than you do.

    The second reason you hear those awful echoes or reverb is that when you’re using the internal microphone and speakers, you’re essentially on speakerphone. Thus you run the risk of your microphone picking up sound from your speakers, the speakers playing that sound back, which is again picked up by the microphone, and now you’ve got an infinite loop of annoying sound.

    It’s possible that your laptop has an echo cancellation feature, but if you’re experiencing a high CPU load because you’ve got multiple applications running, that feature could be rendered ineffective.

    Also, it’s much more difficult to interrupt someone when they’re essentially on a cheap speakerphone. So get everyone on your team using headsets, and you’ll immediately experience a big improvement in the quality of your videoconferences.

    Technique #3: Pause Every Three Sentences When You’re Speaking

    Apropos interruptions, even with headsets, it can sometimes be tough to hear when someone wants to cut in and ask a question or make a comment. Therefore you’ll need to instruct everyone on your team to pause for a few seconds after they speak (approximately) three sentences.

    It’s shocking just how many people can speak uninterrupted for 5-10 minutes (if not more) on a videoconference. And when that happens, the other people on the call are virtually guaranteed to lose focus. And forget the question they wanted to ask. And even become seriously irritated.

    It takes a little practice, but if you remind your team at the beginning of every videoconference, and model the behavior yourself, you’ll quickly see a marked improvement.

    Technique #4: Have Clear Rules For Your Videoconference

    More than 20,000 people have taken the free online test “Is Your Personality Suited To Working Remotely Or In The Office?” Respondents answer ten questions and receive results indicating whether their personality is better suited to working remotely or working in an office.

    One of the questions asks people to choose between these two statements:

    • I prefer not to be constrained by a set of rigid rules.
    • I like having rules and clearly defined expectations.

    The data shows that 43% of people like having rules and clearly defined expectations. So if your videoconference doesn’t have a clearly defined agenda with clearly defined blocks of time, a process for everyone to take turns speaking, and strict start and stop times, you risk running afoul of the desires of nearly half your team.

    In a typical face-to-face meeting, you can afford to get a little sloppy and careless with your meeting structure; you’ll immediately see via everyone’s body language that things are going poorly and you can regroup quickly. But on a videoconference, the telltale signs of a meeting going poorly aren’t quite so obvious.

    Even though a minute-by-minute agenda, or prescribed times for questions, might seem a bit much for a videoconference with your internal team, structure is a good antidote for stress. Structure provides a sense of clarity and calm, because it means there’s one less thing we have to stress about.

    With your employees likely feeling all-time-high levels of stress, it’s a great idea for you to eliminate as many irritants and stressors as possible. And with an exponential increase in the number of leaders and employees conducting videoconferences, even small tweaks can deliver significant improvement.

    See Original Post

  • March 31, 2020 4:12 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The Washington Post

    A Van Gogh painting on loan to a small museum outside Amsterdam was announced as stolen on Monday — a date that also happened to mark Van Gogh's 167th birthday.

    The painting — a relatively unknown canvas titled “The Spring Garden,” completed in 1884 — had been lent to the Singer Laren museum for a temporary exhibition by the Groninger Museum in the northern Netherlands.

    The Singer Laren, which houses the collection of the American artist William Singer and his wife, Anna Singer, had been closed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Police are investigating the case and have not identified a suspect.

    “I am extremely outraged that this happened,” Jan Rudolph de Lorm, the museum’s director, said at a news conference Monday. Evert van Os, the general manager of the Singer Laren, said museum personnel were “angry, shocked, and sad.”

    Andreas Blühm, director of the Groninger, said his museum had lent “The Spring Garden,” its only painting by Van Gogh, to the Singer Laren two months ago. He declined to provide the painting’s value but said the canvas provided a rare glimpse into the artist’s early development.

    “People often tend not to recognize the earlier paintings from this Dutch period, before he moved to Paris,” Blühm said, noting that the painting depicts the parish where Van Gogh’s father worked as a pastor. The garden the viewer sees is his father’s garden.

    “It has a certain documentary and emotional value,” Blühm said. “It’s quite intimate.”

    Although authorities have yet to provide many details about the case, Dutch art investigator Arthur Brand, whose research has led to the recovery of hundreds of artworks, said the case might turn out to fit a pattern of art theft in the Netherlands.

    In June 1990, Brand said, three Van Gogh paintings — “The Sitting Farmer’s Wife,” “The Digging Farmer’s Wife” and “Wheels of the Water Mill in Gennep,” all from 1884 — were stolen from a similarly small Dutch museum, the Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch, a small city in the central Netherlands.

    Those canvases ultimately turned up in the possession of Dutch drug lord Kees Houtman, who later attempted to use them, Brand said, as a bargaining chip to negotiate a shortened sentence with prosecutors. Houtman was killed in 2005.

    In 1991, there was a failed heist at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh National Museum, from which gunmen stole 20 paintings early in the morning but then abandoned them at a nearby train station some 35 minutes later.

    The same museum was targeted in 2002, when two other Van Gogh canvases — “View of the Sea at Scheveningen” (1882) and “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen” (1882-1884) — were stolen. They turned up later in the possession of Italian mobster Raffaele Imperiale, who resides in Dubai, from which Italian authorities are seeking his extradition. Like Houtman, Imperiale ultimately attempted to use the return of the Van Gogh paintings in exchange for a shortened sentence for drug trafficking, to which he had confessed, albeit in absentia.

    After Imperiale provided their whereabouts to authorities, the two stolen paintings were recovered in 2016 and later returned to the Van Gogh museum.

    Both Brand and Blühm said they doubted that the Singer Laren museum’s coronavirus-related closure somehow facilitated the crime: The theft occurred early in the morning when the museum would have been closed even during a normal week, and all normal security protocols were in place.

    “These guys were professionals. They did it in four or five minutes,” Brand said, referring to Monday’s heist. “They knew exactly what they were looking for — they went straight to this painting. It rang a bell.”

    See Original Post

  • March 31, 2020 4:06 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposed from The Indy Channel

    Three teenagers were arrested Saturday after Columbus police received more than 50 reports of theft and vandalism.

    According to information from the Columbus Police Department, three 16-year-olds were taken into custody Saturday afternoon. They are accused of stealing from vehicles and vandalizing property in downtown Columbus and on the northwest side of town.

    Places and objects that were vandalized included a sculpture in front of the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, vehicles, a funeral home, a church and a school, Columbus police said.

    Anyone with information should call the Columbus Police Department at 812-376-2600.

    See Original Post

  • March 31, 2020 3:42 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19
    For all the latest CDC updates:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html


    Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

    For a real time dash board of global cases:
    https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6


    Public Health Planning Guide

    The Chicago Department of Public Health and others created a Public Health Planning Guide for Faith Communities. While the focus is on houses of worship here, the guide provides great information that can be applied to other sectors. 
    https://www.wheaton.edu/media/humanitarian-disaster-institute/hdi-files/1314-252_DisasterPrepardnessCCDHP_UPDATED.pdf


    Educational Materials and Signage Examples

    From New York State Department of Health, you can find their examples of Seasonal Influenza Signage that you can modify to fit your institution's needs around Coronavirus. 
    https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/influenza/seasonal/educational_materials.htm


    ASIS Webinar - Novel Coronavirus: Crisis Management and Pandemic Best Practices for the Security Professional
    A panel from the GTPIIC Council reviews the current situation with the Coronavirus. They will provide information on the virus, the global response and an outlook on broader implications. The panel will also discuss what organizations are doing to minimize the threat and what security professionals need to consider. Learn More and Register


  • March 26, 2020 4:02 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from CNN

    A new internet icon has emerged and his name is Tim.

    As the head of security at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Tim takes his responsibility of protecting the museum and its collection seriously.

    But with the museum closed to the public and other employees working from home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Tim was given an additional duty of managing the museum's social media accounts.

    "I'm new to social media but excited to share what I am told is called 'content' on all of The Cowboy's what I am told are 'platforms' including the Twitter, the Facebook, and the Instagram," Tim wrote in his first post.

    In Tim's "content" that he posts daily, he takes followers on a tour through the empty museum, showing off cool artifacts like the hat and eye patch John Wayne wore in "True Grit," the 1969 film in which Wayne won his only Academy Award for his portrayal of US Marshal Rooster Cogburn.

    While definitely interesting, his followers seem to be getting a kick out of his posts for a completely different reason -- his dad jokes and wholesome attempts at figuring out social media.

    From writing out "hashtag" to ending each post with "Thanks, Tim," he isn't what you'd call social media savvy, but that's why people are loving him.

    "Tim has turned this twitter into a wholesome beacon in frightening times," one Twitter user commented.

    "I love this man omg thank you for this wholesome content I'm staying inside for people like you #HashtagThanksTim," another commented.

    Putting Tim in charge of the museum's social media was simply just a way to keep the public engaged while the museum was closed, said Seth Spillman, the museum's chief marketing and communications director.

    Spillman said he never expected each post would be garnering thousands of likes from people around the world.

      "What we found was an authentic voice for the Museum," Spillman said in a statement to CNN. "What we didn't anticipate was how much that voice would resonate with people during this difficult time. It's wonderful."

      Let's just hope that once the coronavirus crisis ends, the museum will let Tim keep tweeting.

      See Original Post

    • March 23, 2020 12:48 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

      Reposted from FEMA

      Up to date as of 3/22/20

      Myth: There is a national lockdown and the entire country will be quarantined for two weeks.

      Fact: There is no national lockdown.  As with all information online or shared via social media, it is important to verify the source of the information.  You can find the latest information as well as links to additional resources at www.coronavirus.gov.

      Myth: FEMA has deployed military assets.

      Fact: No, FEMA does not have military assets. Like all emergencies, response is most successful when it is locally executed, state managed and federally supported.  Each state’s governor is responsible for response activities in their state, to include establishing curfews, deploying the National Guard if needed and any other restrictions or safety measures they deem necessary for the health and welfare of their citizens.

      Myth: I need to stockpile as many groceries and supplies as I can.

      Fact: Please only buy what your family needs for a week.  It is important to remember that many families may be unable to buy a supply of food and water for weeks in advance. Consumer demand has recently been exceptionally high – especially for grocery, household cleaning, and some healthcare products. Freight flows are not disrupted, but stores need time to restock.

      Myth: I heard that the government is sending $1,000 checks. How do I sign up?

      Fact: The U.S. Government is not mailing checks in response to COVID-19 at this time. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer. It’s important that you only trust information coming from official sources. The Federal Trade Commission recently provided more information about this scam and other common COVID-19 related scams on their website.

      Myth: Only those over 60 years of age and those with existing health problems are at risk from the Coronavirus.

      Fact: It is an unfortunate rumor that only people over 60 years of age are at risk of getting this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), those at higher risk include older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions. However, symptoms can range from mild to severe with and may have different complications for each individual. The CDC has a list of COVID-19 symptoms you may experience. Please continue to follow the official information from the CDC.

      Click here for the most up to date information from FEMA

    • March 18, 2020 9:33 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

      Reposted from Fox News

      The thieves who broke into the Dresden Green Vault in Germany four months ago, making off with $1.1 billion in precious gems, may have had inside help.

      Four Dresden Green Vault security guards are under investigation in connection with the Nov. 25 overnight break-in, The Art Newspaper reported online Tuesday.

      Jürgen Schmidt, a spokesman for the Dresden prosecutor’s office, said that two of the four guards were under investigation because of “an action concerning the alarm system that may have benefited the thieves,” according to German media outlets.

      German press agency DPA reported that one of them was arrested in November on suspicion of passing documents about the Green Vault’s layout and security system to the thieves, only to be released after a house search turned up no relevant evidence, according to the newspaper.

      DPA reported that the other two guards were on duty when the break-in happened. They were accused in a complaint lodged by an individual of not taking quick action to prevent the theft, the Art Newspaper reported.

      “The suspects have behaved cooperatively and initially said they wanted to speak to investigators, but subsequently they reserved their right to silence,” Schmidt told the Bild newspaper, according to the Guardian.

      Last week German police reported that at least seven people took part in the heist.

      Prosecutors and police said they have determined that an Audi S6 used in the theft and later set alight in a Dresden garage was sold to an unidentified buyer in August. They said they believe a young man who picked up the car from the seller in Magdeburg, another eastern German city, was connected to the break-in and released a sketch of a slim dark-haired man believed to be about 25.

      A large diamond brooch, a diamond epaulet and other treasures were taken by the robbers.

      The Green Vault is one of the world’s oldest museums. It was established in 1723 and contains the treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony, comprising around 4,000 objects of gold, precious stones and other materials.

      See Original Post

    • March 16, 2020 10:06 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

      Reposted from The Harvard Business Review

      We’ve all had that moment on an airplane where we experience turbulence. Maybe you are rudely awakened by a sudden jolt, or you stand up to use the restroom and have to hold onto the back of someone’s seat. Within a few seconds, the pilot’s voice comes over the intercom. What are you listening for? You are listening for reassurance through the uncertainty of turbulence.  

      With Covid-19 concerns around the globe, it’s not just the airline industry that is experiencing a sudden lurch on its normal journey. Many business leaders are asking how they can communicate uncertainty both internally to their teams and externally to their clients — whether it’s about participating in an upcoming conference or delivering on a signed proposal. Communicating in the face of uncertainty is a constant leadership challenge.

      In addition to working with the airline industry on this topic, my team and I have worked with Fortune 500 companies around the world who need to manage high-stakes communications to multiple audiences simultaneously. Here are five steps we have found to be incredibly effective: 

      1. Pause and breathe.

      Before you start communicating to others, take a minute to pause and breathe. When you are the most senior person in a room, your team takes its cues from you in terms of how to act and how to feel. Taking a minute to center yourself will ensure that you present a calm, rational force to your colleagues and clients. This applies over the phone or through email as well. When you feel anxiety, you transmit that to others. A study of empathetic stress found that observing others experiencing stress could cause observers to themselves to feel more stressed.

      2. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

      In public speaking, knowing your audience in advance is critical. In times of uncertainty, it’s paramount, regardless of the medium. Do a thorough strategic analysis of who you are communicating to. What are their concerns, questions, or interests? What do they need an immediate answer to? You might use language such as, “I know many of you may be thinking…” The quicker you can address what’s on their mind, the quicker you will be able to calm them down. If you are not addressing their most pressing interests, they might not even be listening to you.

      3. Do your research.

      In times of stress, misinformation can be especially destructive. Seek out credible sources of information, and read the information fully before distilling it into clear, concise language. Share those links with others, so that they too have a credible resource. As a faculty member at Harvard, I appreciate that the university created a separate webpage with credible sources for more information and that it sends frequent emails with updates.

      4. Speak clearly and confidently.

      You can speak with confidence even without 100% certainty. You can confidently express doubt or uncertainty, while still sounding like you are in control of the situation. You might say, “Reports are still coming in, but what we understand so far is this…” Communicate frequently with your audience, even without news to report, so that they know you are actively following the issue. Fellow communication expert Nancy Duarte wrote an insightful article on this topic several years ago and said, “People will be more willing to forgive your in-progress ideas if they feel like they’re part of the process.”

      5. Have specific next steps.

      In times of uncertainty, it’s helpful to provide your team with tangible action items. Discussing your own next steps or recommending next steps to your audience gives them a sense of control so they feel like they are contributing to stabilization. Use language such as, “Here are the steps we are taking” or “Here’s what you can do” to demonstrate action.

      Communicating through uncertainty is an essential leadership skill, regardless of whether or not you have a formal leadership role. In fact, the ability to communicate through uncertainty is part of what demonstrates to others your leadership readiness. Use the above steps to first find your own sense of focus and then allow yourself to transmit that reassurance to others.

      See Original Post

    • March 16, 2020 9:56 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

      Reposted from The Harvard Business Review

      The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China has spread to at least 131 countries and has sickened more than 156,000 people, with more than 5,800 deaths (click here for the latest data). Governments have shut borders and imposed quarantines, and companies have imposed travel bans. The human and economic impacts on businesses have been stark.

      This epidemic is a wake-up call for companies to carefully review the strategies, policies, and procedures they have in place to protect employees, customers, and operations in this and future epidemics. Here are eight questions that companies should ask as they prepare for — and respond to — the spread of the virus.

      1. How can we best protect our employees from exposure in the workplace?

      The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 (as the disease is called) is thought to spread largely through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing, and it seems to spread easily. It may also be possible to become infected by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching one’s nose or mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that employees should:

      • Stay home if they have respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath) and/or a temperature above 100.4 F.
      • Leave work if they develop these symptoms while at the workplace.
      • Shield coughs and sneezes with a tissue, elbow, or shoulder (not the bare hands).
      • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

      We would add that it’s sensible to avoid shaking hands entirely to reduce the risk of spreading infection. Though that might be awkward at times, it’s an increasingly common practice in hospitals and clinics.

      As hand washing is one of the most effective defenses, employers need to make sure that employees have ready access to washing facilities and that those are kept well stocked with soap and (ideally) paper towels; there is some evidence that paper towel drying is less likely to spread viruses than jet dryers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes should be distributed throughout the workplace, and all frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs should be routinely cleaned. Increased cleaning of common areas using standard cleaning agents can also reduce risk of spread of respiratory disease. Unless they’re delivering health care, there’s no need for organizations to stockpile face masks, as these are in short supply and the CDC doesn’t recommend their use by healthy people to protect against infection.

      A just-completed Willis Towers Watson survey of 158 employers globally, over half of them multinational companies, found that most are implementing an array of actions to protect employees. As might be expected, China is out ahead on this. Nearly 90% of surveyed companies there have increased employee access to hand sanitizers, and more than 80% have ramped up public health communications (such as posters about preventing spread) and are directing employees to work from home if they can. In North America where Covid-19 is just starting to emerge, companies are being proactive: 70% have already or plan to increase communications, and more than half have or plan to increase access to hand sanitizers.

      2. When should we exclude workers or visitors from the workspace?

      As discussed, employees should stay home or go home if they have symptoms of coronavirus infection. But dedicated staff often resist taking sick days, instead dragging themselves into work where they may infect others. Given the threat this epidemic presents, managers shouldn’t hesitate to send employees who present with Covid-19 symptoms home. Likewise, employees or visitors who are symptomatic or at high risk for Covid-19 should be kept separate from staff and helped with arrangements to leave the workplace and obtain medical evaluation while minimizing their public exposure. For example, they should avoid public places and public transportation, and, ideally, should stay six feet away from others unless they are wearing a mask.

      If Covid-19 becomes widespread in the community, companies can check temperatures using hand-held thermal scanners and consider excluding staff or visitors with temperatures over 100.4 F. Temperature is not an exceptionally accurate way to assess risk, though, as some with the coronavirus will be contagious but have no fever, and others will have higher temperatures not related to this virus. Thus, an elevated temperature in combination with respiratory symptoms is the best indicator of possible infection.

      Public health organizations recommend that companies bar employees or visitors from coming to the workplace for a period 14 days after a “medium” or “high-risk” exposure to the virus — generally meaning having been in close contact with someone who is known to be infected, or having traveled from a high-risk region. (For more, see the CDC’s “Guidance for Risk Assessment.”) Forty-three percent of North American employers in our survey said they now bar employees or visitors who have recently traveled from China for a period of 14 days after return. Visits or return to the workplace can resume after 14 days if no symptoms emerge.

      3. Should we revise our benefits policies in cases where employees are barred from the worksite or we close it? 

      The likelihood that increasing numbers of employees will be unable to work either because they are sick or must care for others means that companies should review their paid time off and sick leave policies now. Policies that give employees confidence that they will not be penalized and can afford to take sick leave are an important tool in encouraging self-reporting and reducing potential exposure. Our employer survey found that nearly 40% of employers have or plan to clarify their pay policy if worksites are closed or employees are furloughed.

      While few companies outside of Asia have closed worksites yet because of the epidemic, about half of the Chinese companies we surveyed had shut down worksites at least temporarily. Such closures will likely become more common outside of Asia should the epidemic continue on its current course.

      Most firms will treat Covid-19 in their policies as they would any other illness, and sick leave or short-term disability insurance would be applicable.  However, exclusion from the workplace might not be covered by disability policies, and prolonged absence could last longer than available sick leave. Our survey found that more than 90% of employers in China paid their workers in full and maintained full benefits during furloughs. Companies should promulgate clear policies on this now and communicate about these with employees. Most will want to offer protections to their workforce to the extent this is financially feasible.

      4. Have we maximized employees’ ability to work remotely?

      While many jobs (retail, manufacturing, health care) require people to be physically present, work, including meetings, that can be done remotely should be encouraged if coming to work or traveling risks exposure to the virus. Videoconferencing, for instance, is a good alternative to risky face-to-face meetings. Nearly 60% of the employers we surveyed indicated that they have increased employees’ flexibility for remote work (46%) or plan to (13%).

      5. Do we have reliable systems for real-time public health communication with employees?

      Dangerous rumors and worker fears can spread as quickly as a virus. It is imperative for companies to be able to reach all workers, including those not at the worksite, with regular, internally coordinated, factual updates about infection control, symptoms, and company policy regarding remote work and circumstances in which employees might be excluded from or allowed to return to the workplace.  These communications should come from or be vetted by the emergency response team, and they should be carefully coordinated to avoid inconsistent policies being communicated by different managers or functions. Clearly this requires organizations to maintain current phone/text and email contact information for all employees and test organization-wide communication periodically. If you don’t have a current, universal contact capability already, now is a good time to create this.

      6. Should we revise our policies around international and domestic business travel?

      Sixty-five percent of companies surveyed are now restricting travel to and from Asia. It is prudent to limit employee business travel from areas where Covid-19 is most prevalent — both to prevent illness and to prevent loss of productivity due to quarantine or employee exclusion from the workplace after travel. Companies should track the CDC Travel Health Notices and the State Department Travel Advisories to determine what business travel should be canceled or postponed. The CDC currently recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Europe and Iran.

      Employees should be especially careful not to travel if they feel unwell, as they might face quarantine on return if they have a fever even without significant risk of coronavirus infection.

      7. Should we postpone or cancel scheduled conferences or meetings?

      Yes. There is mounting evidence that social distancing can delay the epidemic and potentially save lives, so most meetings and conferences should be converted from in-person to virtual. Some states and localities are banning meetings of more than 250 people. If you have a meeting, limit the number of attendees and encourage those who are older or have chronic disease to attend virtually. Provide room to allow attendees to sit or stand at least six feet away from others. Discourage hand-shaking and assure that proper hand-washing facilities (and/or hand sanitizers) are easily available. If you have any questions about best practices, contact your local health department.

      8. Are supervisors adequately trained?

      Sixty-five percent of companies surveyed that have employees in China are training supervisors about implications of Covid-19, while 34% of those with employees in North America report they are actively training or planning to train their supervisors. Whatever form the training takes, supervisors should have ready access to appropriate information (such as on infection control and company policies) and should know who to contact within the firm to report exposures. Supervisors or other designated persons in the company should promptly notify local public health authorities about any suspected exposure. A web search for “local health department” and postal code or city or county name will generally yield accurate contact information. In the US, supervisors can also contact the CDC at 800-232-4636 with questions about coronavirus.

      Diligent planning for global health emergencies can help protect employees, customers, and the business.  But plans are only as good as their execution. Companies should use the current situation to optimize and battle-test their plans. Effective employer action in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic can save lives and help companies earn the long-term trust of their employees and customers.

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