July 30, 2021

No vacation from the virus – four ways to protect your business from a summer COVID surge

Ready for a little rest and relaxation this summer? You’re not alone. Staycation bookings have skyrocketed and thousands are keeping a hopeful eye on the ever-shifting green list. Later this week, ministers are expected to scrap quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and US. After a year distinctly lacking in leisure time, we’d all like to hit pause on the pandemic – but with the Delta variant spiking around the world, leaving our comfort zones now comes with added risks. 

As the mass movement of people gathers speed, companies with onsite workers will take the hardest hit. Summer has always been a tricky time for businesses. This year, though, the usual challenges of juggling team leave, sourcing temporary cover and maintaining productivity will be eclipsed by COVID-19 safety issues. 

Even with the vaccination programme progressing at pace, staff travel and time off introduce heightened transmission risks – just as employers need all hands to the pump. When you’re working with a skeleton staff, losing team members to unplanned periods of isolation, illness and absence can throw operations off track overnight. 

So how can you give employees the break they need without threatening business continuity? Here are four steps to guide you safely through summer.  

  1. COVID-proof your annual leave policy 

The pandemic has prompted complex questions around employee time off. Are you allowed to ask if a colleague is travelling abroad? Do staff need to work through quarantine (and do you need to pay them)? Can you stipulate UK-only vacations? 

This summer, you’re likely to be managing a trying mix of cancelled plans and last-minute leave, so be ready with a consistent, airtight holiday policy that’s easily accessible to staff. Review your company’s rules with your legal and HR team before the requests roll in and clearly communicate any updates to colleagues. 

Extended breaks are essential to employee mental health and wellbeing – but so is a secure, risk-free workplace. Aim to shape a fair, flexible process that supports both. 

Look to the gov.uk and Acas websites for current UK travel and quarantine info. 

  1. Test your staff twice every week  

Twice-weekly screening delivers a rolling snapshot of the virus within your business – and cuts the cost of unnecessary staff quarantine. A new generation of highly sensitive testing tools pinpoints actively contagious employees, rather than those producing false positive results due to past infection. This allows you to isolate single carriers who could trigger a widespread outbreak – and the pricey knock-on effects to output, absence levels and staff morale. Meanwhile, the rest of your team remains hard at work. 

As we approach peak travel season, your ability to contain cases becomes even more critical. Screening staff before they return to site – even after a UK-based holiday – significantly reduces the risk of the virus entering your workplace. 

  1. Choose tests that travel well  

Consistency and commitment are key to the ongoing success of your testing programme. To build buy-in, you need a reliable approach that’s simple for staff to administer week in and week out, even when they’re away from home. 

Current rapid antigen screening methods fall short on several levels – from the risk of false positives (that erode employees’ trust in your approach) to an invasive testing experience (that subjects staff to painful throat and nasal samples, gagging and sneezing).  

Luckily, lateral flow tests have evolved since the start of the pandemic. A new saliva-only screening device makes the entire process quick, comfortable and achievable in just 15 minutes. KnowNow delivers 99.9% accurate results and works anytime, anywhere with a simple mouth swab. Staff can continue testing while out of the office and prove they’re COVID-clear with a unique QR code before heading back to work. 

  1. Share seasonal safety reminders 

The coming months will be full of mixed messages. The final set of social contact limits have been lifted. We’re seeing capacity crowds at major sporting events. Yet thousands of pupils saw out the school year in self-isolation as infections surged among children and teens. 

The virus remains a very real threat – particularly to unvaccinated people – so it’s worth reminding colleagues to act responsibly over the summer. Consider a mini comms campaign highlighting the continued importance of twice-weekly testing, hand hygiene, social distancing and face coverings – despite the easing of government restrictions. 

For those holding the fort while others are on holiday, share the steps you’re taking to keep them safe, especially when their colleagues return to site. These measures could include: 

  • Adhering to current quarantine rules
  • Extra hand-washing facilities 
  • Creating space and ensuring social distancing
  • Frequent cleaning routines
  • A robust workplace screening programme 
  • Improved ventilation 

Learn more about fast, easy, accurate workplace testing 

Screening your team for COVID-19 can be surprisingly straightforward, even during a summer like no other. With a saliva-only approach, you get 99.9% accurate results from a quick, comfortable mouth swab, plus peace of mind that you’re keeping cases under control.

Find out more at knownow.com

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