Life in the Time of Coronavirus

Source: LinkedIn Article
Author: Dan Gunn, CEO VIATEC 

Given the evolving nature of COVID-19, and its impact on our members, we would like to share with our community a summary of the current situation, how VIATEC is approaching this and an outline of possible actions and recommendations from health experts for members to review and consider.

Current Situation:

The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild and public health officials are saying the risk of contracting coronavirus in B.C. remains low. However, there’s an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

This is why precautionary measures such as social distancing, hand washing, avoiding touching your face and quarantine procedures should be taken seriously and implemented, in hopes that it will slow and reverse the spread of the virus sooner than later. By taking action, to “flatten the curve”, we can slow the spread and hopefully avoid situations where we do not have enough beds, medical staff, ventilators and other key resources to treat the most serious cases.

Some countries have enacted measures which restrict travel and public gatherings and there may be a need for travellers to be quarantined upon their return to Canada. Island Health and the Government of Canada are currently recommending against non-essential travel to Iran, China or Italy, or if you are returning from those areas to self-quarantine for 14 days. Additionally, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea currently have travel health notices. These areas may change and expand as the situation evolves. 

At VIATEC:

We don’t want to foster panic about the current situation, but we are also aware that our actions affect others. If we make proactive decisions together now, it will lessen the impact on Tectoria, our healthcare system and the global community.

As of today, the VIATEC staff is working remotely from their homes and, for the most part, it’s business as usual. We have however postponed the Culminate Leadership Summit and cancelled the upcoming F*ckUp Night.  Many events in Fort Tectoria are being cancelled by the organizers but we are leaving that decision up to the organizers for now. We are working on backup plans for the VIATEC Awards (just in case) and we are working on ways that we can help continue to inform, educate and virtually bring together our local tech community while this plays out. Stay up to date by referring to our Events Calendar or subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

Actions for Leaders:

We strongly advise leaders and their teams to stay current by referencing the Government of Canada health notices to inform decision making regarding their work, social and travel plans. Situations can change quickly, so check the site regularly.

Here are some specific actions for your consideration:

  • Relax sick leave policies to support employees in self-isolating when ill. This includes suspending the need for medical notes and reduces the burden on an already stressed health care system. Encourage staff to stay home if they are sick until they no longer have symptoms.
  • Change how you greet one another. Better to bow or waive than to shake hands or even touch elbows. Social distancing helps reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
  • If COVID-19 symptoms develop, your employee should immediately be separated from others and sent home without using public transit, if possible.
  • Take this opportunity to assess the hygiene of your working space and office kitchen. It may seem trivial and mundane, but is your team and custodial staff taking cleaning protocols seriously? Computer keyboards, phones, elevator buttons, doorknobs, counters, desks and other commonly touched surfaces should be regularly disinfected. Help by supplying kleenex and disinfectant wipes as well as placing hand sanitizing dispensers in prominent locations throughout the workplace, if possible.
  • Create or assess your business continuity plan. Are all employees familiar with your emergency preparedness plan? How prepared is your team if they aren’t able to come into the office? Whether the reason is a pandemic like COVID-19 or future unforeseen events and severe weather, how can you plan now to prevent loss of business later? Consider the need for cross-training personnel to function in key positions and an internal communications plan.
  • Adjust policies to reduce social contact, such as:
    • flexible hours
    • staggering start times
    • remote working arrangements

Please continue practising excellent hygiene, stay updated and keep those immune systems healthy! If you have had any contact with anyone with COVID-19 please contact your healthcare provider or the Government of Canada novel coronavirus information line: 1-833-784-4397 or visit canada.ca/coronavirus

For more information on COVID-19, including ways to reduce your risk of infection, please refer to the following resources: