Non-Profit COVID-19 Crossroads: Should You Reopen Your Office or Not?

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The virus certainly can make us act and look strange. Take South Korea for example. Fast, upbeat music may be your cup of tea to escape the drudgery of your daily routine. Well, guess what? Fast-tempo music such as those disco music made famous by Psy is already banned in gyms in South Korea. It might certainly surprise you. But the logic being used here is that fast music translates to more vigorous exercises which in the long run could make gym buffs sweat and breath heavily more. Such a scenario may just be the fertile environment for viral infections.

Then there’s the case for England, another scenario playing out as we speak that could leave you floored.  Even with England’s still high daily infections (50,000), the lords of Great Britain have decided to carry on with Freedom Day — and do away with the shackles of the virus for good. So starting on the 19th of July this year, social distancing and masks are a thing of the past in the United Kingdom.

All these seemingly irreconcilable measures might add to the confusion even more for your non-profit. And the million-dollar question is you reopen or not? With America’s economy all set to reopen, perhaps it’s about time.

Luckily, expert guidelines should show you the way. At the end of the day, it’s the viability of your non-profit that’s central to your decision. After all, when you have the heart to serve, your perseverance will eventually pay off big time.

Staying Remote

One key element to consider for reopening is its necessity. Then, you need to ask yourself, if it’s essential.

First up, know if remote work can make your non-profit function. Thus, you need to evaluate if the delivery of your service is possible given a virtual environment. Like most organizations during the pandemic, nonprofits do face issues such as a dip in productivity and employee morale. Take note that these can be addressed with some strategic alternative to reopening your physical office.

Some key essentials to help you:

  • Implementing certain specific policies in teleworking does increase productivity. To do this, you need to have clear rules and expectations with working hours. Even better, you can also benefit if you focus not on time logs but on productivity and results instead.
  • To boost employee morale, dangle some carrots such as employee assistance programs, instant messaging services, and then some. Also, let’s not forget about technology. Remote work technology can be a way a great way to ease work. For one, you can organize weekly or even daily check-ins with other employees.

If after a thorough evaluation of your processes, you uncover that your non-profit can function pretty well with remote work, then there is no need for you to reopen your physical office. It just simply makes no sense given the virus threat.

The Merits of Reopening

When you really want to reopen back your office, there are certain protocols you need to observe. You’ll have to ensure the safety of your workers who will be reporting in-office for work. Simply put, doing so can be a tall order.

The situation right now is still volatile. Take the case of California. The state may have reopened its economy weeks ago. But today, California is experiencing massive virus infections.

It’s no accident many businesses have been contemplating transferring their offices to safer regions such as the country. As has been observed, mega-cities bore the biggest brunt of infections in America.

real estate agent

In this regard, talking to dependable real estate sales agents should you plan to relocate is wise. They can give you the latest update on the property market and how viable is it to transfer to a safer office.

Take note that compliance with government-mandated protocols isn’t exactly a walk in the park should you reopen. Some key things to consider are:

  • The Federal

The General Clause is stated in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). To boot, your employee’s workplace should be free of any hazards which may cause death or any serious harm.

  • The State and Local

Check the latest executive orders to reopen your business. Each state and each city has distinct rules of engagement.

Financial and Administrative Essentials for Safe Reopening

Nonprofits do need to assess their financial and administrative burdens related to the reopening of their offices. Some of these are:

  • The direct financial costs of your organization
  • Space of your physical office which determines modification needed for compliance.
  • Costs of necessary supplies such as cleaning supplies, face masks, and hand sanitizers.
  • Cost of having enough cleaning services and know if an increase in the frequency of disinfecting is needed.
  • Costs that are associated with daily testing and screening.

The Case for Liabilities

There are unusual lawsuits that appeared related to the pandemic in regard to the workplace. Some of which include gross negligence. One suit charged an employer for not providing enough safety precautions for employees in their workplace.

Nonprofits do need to carefully consider all potential liability that may result from office reopening. Remember, employees have the power to file claims.

You may think of making your employees sign a waiver, but it isn’t recommended. Such waivers are not likely to reduce the liability of an employer. Instead, you can have an acknowledgment signed by your employees which states all the policies and protocols. After they have read them all, they can then sign as a sign of understanding.

It’s a tough task, no doubt. Fortunately, thinking things through has its advantages. Your non-profit is less likely to fail, and more likely to succeed when you’re thorough.

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