Post COVID-19 Workplace Preparedness

Transitioning back into the workplace, following the COVID-19 pandemic.


Listen to the full episode here, or read the full transcript below

Paul Martin: Welcome to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. This is Paul Martin, the business commentator on CKLM and joining me as always Colin Rook, the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Byers. And as we record this Colin, we are just a few days into phase one of re-opened Saskatchewan, and that was pretty preliminary stuff. But as we move forward through the next few weeks, we’re going to see more and more of that re-opening of Saskatchewan, if we can use that terminology, which means people are trying to figure out, what does the new normal look like?

And I know that that’s a question you get to an awful lot about what are the risk in implications? What are the insurance implications of all of this? So you’ve begun to dig into it. So let’s take this expertise that you’ve applied to it with all of the knowledge and the resources at your disposal to put together the checklist. And that’s what you’re really good at is checklists and helping businesses sort through things that could be rocky roads, and you try and smooth them out. So I’m guessing the return to work is topic number one these days.

Colin Rooke: Yeah, it is. And I think like on this show, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about cyber and I make a lot of apologies for why are we talking about cyber again? Well, cyber is just topical. Cyber crime keeps changing, every week there’s something new and when it comes to COVID-19, it’s what everyone is talking about. It’s what the insurance companies are talking about. It’s what our clients and prospects are talking about. And so we’ve put a lot of emphasis on resource generation and, I think everyone is just being inundated with information currently. I mean, of course it’s all over the news. If you’re involved in any sort of local or national associations, you’re going to be receiving bulletins and updates.

We’re trying to help our clients and we’re trying to organize a lot of the information and make it, I guess easier to navigate through.

And so, I mean, we’re trying to help our clients and we’re trying to organize a lot of the information and make it, I guess easier to navigate through. And you mentioned, yes, we, we are really good at planning. We are really good at checklists and we’re really good at delivering resources that result from the work being put in to these checklists from our clients and prospects. And so, doing what we do, we’ve got, I’d say at this point, well, dozens and dozens of coronavirus related documents. And so what we’ve done is we’ve compiled a post Coronavirus workplace preparedness checklist. I know that’s a mouthful, but we’ve prepared a document that we can give to our clients or give to any prospect that will help you navigate, what should you be doing? And what have you thought about? What have you maybe not thought about?

Paul Martin: You raise a really good point there because I’m thinking if I’m a business owner or I’m the general manager of a business, and my responsibility is to try and keep this ship on a course here through this pandemic. I’m navigating through all the government programs and trying to figure out all the rules and qualifications and un-qualifications, and all of the fine print of all of those things. And then just when I get that sorted out, oh yeah. Then they got to go to parliament, actually turn that into law and the legislation gets changed. And so I got to relearn it. I got all of that stuff on my plate. Then I actually got to do business.

And now I’ve just nicely, got everybody settled into where they’re kind of productive working from home. Now we’re going to start saying, “Well, we’ll let them migrate back to the office.” I mean, business owners just simply don’t have enough bandwidth to be able to deal with all of this stuff. And I think that’s probably what you’re trying to do is to say, “Look, here’s a shortcut. I’ll give you the snapshot. We’ll put it all together in one place and save you a ton of time.”

Colin Rooke: Yeah. That’s exactly it. I mean, a lot of this information, if you put in the time that we are, you could find it yourself. And that’s why I referenced that everyone’s being inundated with information. There’s certainly no shortage, but there’s just so much on business owners’ plates at the moment. And if we can do anything to just make life easy, that’s where our focus is today. And that’s where this checklist comes in. Some of it would be redundant. Some of it you’d have discussions around, for example, cleaning. Who’s going to do it? How often we’re going to do it? But maybe you haven’t, maybe you’ve overlooked something. And this document is going to highlight any missing step, but then we’ve taken a step further.

So as you go through, it’s a yes, no questionnaire. And if something isn’t applicable, you’d leave it. But as you go through this questionnaire and you’re working through it and maybe you have a few nos, a lot of nos, anything that’s missing, or anything that you want more information around on this checklist, we will have access to something that we’ll be able to help you in that category. So, it’s not just a matter of identifying what you haven’t done yet or pointing out what you may not have thought about. It allows you to come back to us and say, “Okay, we went through the list and this is what we’re concerned about.” We then can come back to you and say, “Okay, this is what you would need from us to further that, to further prepare yourself,” which is why I think this is such a great checklist that we’ve put together. We’re going to fill the gaps for you.

Paul Martin: That’s really got to be music to the ears of somebody who’s been going for the last 10 weeks on every day is a work day. There’s no separation between weekend and weekday because we’re working from home. And so normally in a, even just psychological where we go to the office and then when we come home that separates it. When you’re working from home, there is no separation. And so I think I’m hearing people use expressions like zoom fatigue, and “I’m just exhausted. At the end of the day, I spend all day in front of a camera, basically on stage all day long and performing. I am pooped out at the end of the day and then I don’t get any weekend to recharge because we’re just, you just kind of, everybody’s gotten into this mode of a 10, 12 hour day.” And you come along and say, “I’ve got this checklist that’s just going to help you shortcut. Then if you missed anything, not to worry because we’ve got it for you. And if there’s a hole, we’ll fill it.”

Colin Rooke: Exactly. And that was the intent. How can we get all of our resources? Short of sending out dozens of emails with just resource after resource, and then it turns into noise. How can we itemize what we have access to, and then sort of customize what we’re delivering based on an internal assessment. And like, to give an example, like for one of the questions, “Have employees received communication regarding COVID-19 workplace best practices?” If they have, great. Check yes, move on. If you’ve done something and you want more, we’ll provide that. But if it’s no, guess what? We have the document that you can use, that you can send out, and then you can say it was temporarily a no, and now it’s a yes. And Butler Byer’s got that done for you.

Another one, “If using face coverings or masks, have employees been trained on proper procedures?” You can say, “I spent a ton of time outsourcing masks or I created them myself,” however you got them. But do your people know how to remove masks that could be contaminated without self contamination? And yes, you can search and search and search and find that information. It’s available. We found it, but we’re going to give that to you. So if you haven’t done that, well, guess what? We’re going to solve that problem.

Paul Martin: All right, we’re going to take a little break. And when we come back, I want to pursue this a little bit further in some of the nuances that we’re beginning to hear about how businesses are going to have to, well kind of massage these return-to-work programs and one size doesn’t fit all. So I want to dig into that just a bit. You’re listening to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. This is Paul Martin and joining me is Colin Rooke, Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Byers. We’ve got to take a little break. Back after this.

Paul Martin: Welcome back to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. I’m Paul Martin, your host, and joining me Colin Rooke, Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Byers. Just before the break Colin and I alluded to some of the nuances I think that business owners and managers are going to have to deal with in the near term. One of those is, will everybody basically come back at the same time? Or are we going to be saying, there’s going to be a voluntary return to work. I’m hearing all these versions from different businesses that how they’re going to approach it, that there isn’t one size fits all in all of this. And I assume each of those brings with it some sort of implications that managers need to take into account.

Colin Rooke: Yeah, absolutely. And I think depending on what industry you’re working in, I think the plan is going to be very different. And I would say again with the phase one of Open Saskatchewan that a lot of management meetings have, of course, been centered around, how are we going to open? Are we going to open? What is opening look like? How do we communicate this? What is the next three months going to look like, six months? And even conversations around, if you have employees that have been temporarily laid off, will they remain, will you bring some back? And again, we want to help. All the examples I’ve just given now, we will have some resource that will help you navigate through that conversation.

Over the break I was just thinking, if you take this checklist that I’m referring to now, this could be the management meeting. You gather your executives in the room and you work through this, and this is the moving forward plan. And we’re helping to make that easy. And again, it’s just a matter of, “Okay, what have we done well?, What could we do better?” And then reaching out, and then we will help.

Paul Martin: I’m guessing that that has implications as well for, there’s a couple of levels. One is, you are after all in the insurance business. So talking to insurance companies, I assume that if you go through the checklist, they will look upon that favorably. But also there’s, I think we’re going to head into a whole lot of uncharted labor law areas here, as we bring people back, and do we force them, not force them? And then if we want all our people back and somebody doesn’t want to come back, then terminations, all of the stuff that comes from all of that, that you can envision. I mean, I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but you can imagine these things happening. I’m assuming that there’s legal stuff, there’s all sorts of health related stuff, and then there’s just the basic HR people stuff that goes into this. There’s a lot of complexity in this stuff.

Colin Rooke: Yes. And we’ve got resources around all of that. And yeah, we’ve been spending a lot of our time learning about labor laws and working with other legal professionals to answer those questions. What if I say, “Okay, XYZ company is open as of May 25th, but two thirds of the staff don’t want to report back to work, what are my rights as an employer? What rights do my employees have?” And as with anything, it varies based on industry. But we have resources around that. We have resources around what the employer is required to do. Of course, you have a duty to create a safe environment. And that comes with following the guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada. And so we’ve got documentation as to what that looks like across most industries. And again, we can help. And we can’t fight the battle for you if you’ve got a segment of your workforce that does not want to come in, but we can certainly explain to you what your rights are as an employer, what you can do to prepare the workplace so then that, you aren’t seen as offside.

And after that, it’s a matter of communication, which again, we can help with as well. And then dealing with anyone that from there may or may not want to come in. And you made another point earlier to just in surrounding return to work. And we also have documentation or guides around alternative working arrangements. I mean, it’s designed to help alleviate layoffs or any temporary layoffs. And we’ve got lots of research around job sharing programs and ideas that maybe some business owners haven’t thought about. And again, yes, there’s just a ton of HR information out there. We’re just trying to condense it and gather it and let our clients and prospects know that they can come to one place and get most of the answers.

Paul Martin: I’m guessing also Colin, that you’d have entertained or explored the differences that will be encountered by different kinds of businesses. What comes to mind for me is if I’m B to C, business to consumer, I’m going to be faced with some different issues than if I don’t have the general public coming into my office every day in a B to B, in business to business. I’m guessing that there are lines there that people are going to have to actually re-design their counter spaces, where they meet with customers, these kinds of things.

Colin Rooke: Yeah. They absolutely will, and the requirements change based on the type of transactions, type of company that you are. And like I said, this checklist, we want our clients and prospects just to think, questions like, “Are your workstations more than two meters apart? Yes or no.” And if yes, great. If no, “Have you put a protective shield in front?” And if you do, we’ll answer the question, “Are you allowed to have workplaces or workspaces, sorry, that are closer together provided you’ve created a protective screen?”

So, you don’t have to run into the office, move every desk around, but if you’ve got that space, great. If you’ve got offices with closing doors, great. If not, again, this is what your requirements are. And it does change based on industry. Questions around automatic doors, “Is the customer going to open the door? Is the employer going to open the door? Who’s cleaning the door?” We’re just trying to help navigate all those questions.

Paul Martin: Well, I’ll throw a couple of questions and you can tell me whether or not these are in there. We’ve got maybe a minute and a half left in our time today. But one of the things that I think people, some businesses certainly are discovering this work from home thing actually has some merit and people are more productive working from home. They may want to embrace it. That’s going to change the way business has its relationship with workers. And I assume that that has implications for insurance and all sorts of things.

Colin Rooke: Absolutely. If you have the typical office environment and now your risk is underwritten based on that typical office environment. And then now you say, “Well, geez, only 30% or less are in the office. And I’ve got people spread out all over Canada.” It also turns into, of course, some IT issues, changes to the cyber crime, cyber security. So yeah, lots of questions.

We are moving into territory nobody’s been in before, and this is all fresh ground and probably full of all kinds of landmines. So anything you can do to protect yourself, Colin has that list that will help you really navigate through these choppy waters.

Paul Martin: All right. Well, I’m going to encourage people, business owners that are listening to give you a call and grab a hold of this checklist that you’ve got. Because man, we are moving into territory nobody’s been in before, and this is all fresh ground and probably full of all kinds of landmines. So anything you can do to protect yourself, Colin has that list that will help you really navigate through these choppy waters. Colin, as always, thank you for joining us and very informative.

Colin Rooke: Thanks, Paul.

Paul Martin:You have been listening to Colin Rooke, the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Byers. This is Risky Business with Butler Byers. Thanks for joining us. Talk to you next time.