What we told our team about COVID-19—Pt. 1

COVID-19 is serious, and we want to contribute to limiting the spread of the virus. That means being thoughtful about how we operate as a company. There's a lot of great info online, so we pulled the best of what we found into this email, and shared it with the whole team.

Feel free to copy it.


RE: Staying safe in 2020! Responding to COVID-19

Hey team!

In light of the current flu season and COVID-19 (Coronavirus 😷), here is an outline of how we're looking at, and planning for, this evolving issue.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has assessed the health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada. That being said, the situation is evolving quickly and the public health risk is being continually reassessed as new information becomes available. Please take note of travel advice that is continuously being updated by the Canadian government. We are making decisions and moving forward based on three guiding principles:

  1. Keeping all of our employees safe and informed;
  2. Continuing to service our clients and customers with the highest standards;
  3. Doing our part to slow community spread of the virus where there appear to be outbreaks, so that the most vulnerable people are able to get the care they need.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to stay healthy (thanks to Dr. James Robb, a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego and one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses in the 1970s):

  1. 👋🏼NO HANDSHAKING! Use elbow bump, slight bow, head nod, etc.
  2. 🔘Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.
  3. 🚪Open doors with your closed fist or hip—do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
  4. 📲Use disinfectant wipes on handles, seats, surfaces you commonly touch (phones, laptops, etc.).
  5. 🧼Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
  6. 🧴Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home's entrances AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can't immediately wash your hands.
  7. 🤧If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more.

Items to stock:

  1. 🧤Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas.

Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average - everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs). The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.

  1. 😷Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90X/day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you - it is lung-specific.
  2. 🧴Stock up now with hand sanitizers; must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.
  3. 🍬Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY "cold-like" symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.

With this in mind, we have:

  • Circulated “healthy tips” to everyone (see above);
  • Added disinfection wipes to help keep your surfaces clean;
  • Instructed cleaning staff to fully disinfect all hard surfaces nightly;
  • Temporary restriction on ALL cross-border travel for work, effective March 16 and until further notice (unless otherwise agreed upon by team member and Manager);
  • Temporary restriction on ALL visitors to #paid office (outside of office deliveries), beginning March 16 until further notice;
  • Temporary work-from-home recommendation effective March 16 until further notice;
  • We strongly recommend holding meetings with clients via online conference
  • We strongly recommend working from home for team members who take public transportation to work
  • All external and team events at the office will be cancelled until further notice;
  • Interviews will occur via online conference;
  • All mindfulness sessions with Sabine will be done via online conference along with All Hands. 

Please let your Manager know if you will be traveling personally so we can help monitor risk. We recommend that if you travel to an area with COVID-19 cases reported (here is a summary report that is updated daily on weekdays for cases in the US), you self-quarantine for two weeks after travel. If you or someone that you live with is deemed high-risk, please inform your Manager and work from home. 

If there is anything else you believe we can be doing, please share your ideas. All are truly welcome.

We will continue to update you as the situation evolves.