Schools and cinemas are closed. Many areas have been declared as “red zones”. Supermarkets are being assaulted. Purell and face masks are unavailable in several cities. Italy woke up on Monday morning in a surreal atmosphere, fomented by the apocalyptic tones of many newspapers and by “infodemic” transmitted (above all) by social networks. The Coronavirus epidemic quickly spread in Italy and, with it, a much more insidious and difficult to manage danger: fear.
Of course, the emergency situation exists and should not be minimized, people’s concern is legitimate and it is important to respect emergency measures precisely to prevent the spread of the virus and avoid a dangerous degeneration of the disease. At the same time, it is important to behave with common sense, containing panic and impulsive attitudes that can be harmful to oneself and others.

Work in the Coronavirus era

Whether it is a large company or a small/medium-sized company, it is necessary to take precautions to protect employees, partners and suppliers: from workplace management to communication with one’s own network abroad, up to the behaviour to be adopted towards suspicious cases inside the company. In these days, employers must be guided by elasticity and common sense since they are called upon to take decisions other than those planned : trade fairs, transfers and trips being delayed, shipments suspended, meetings postponed, sick workers and healthy workers in the grip of anxiety.

Educating staff without causing panic

Informing staff about the behaviours to adopt is simple and immediately applicable. Sending informative e-mails or putting up posters illustrating the current situation and any government advice is certainly an effective action that does not require any particular effort. Consideration could be given to putting up a poster in the office on ‘cough etiquette’, hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices.
Also, regularly clean common areas frequently touched, including door handles, kitchens, bathrooms, showers, keyboards, telephones and desks. Providing handkerchiefs and hand sanitizer, encouraging their regular use, is good practice too. In particular, staff should be encouraged to wash their hands when they enter the building after using public transport and after coughing or sneezing.
Anyone experiencing flu symptoms potentially related to the coronavirus (cough, sore throat, fever, difficulty breathing, chest pain) should be encouraged to stay at home. Especially, those who have been on business trips to areas where the Coronavirus is spreading should not go to work and monitor their health, consulting a doctor if symptoms occur.

Prevention and information

Employees who have been in China in the previous 14 days and workers who have had close and continuous contact with confirmed cases of the disease are required to suspend their work activity. Consideration should also be given to allowing people at high risk to work from home, particularly if there are confirmed cases of Coronavirus near the workplace. Similarly, Business travels and trips should be limited and, where possible, replaced by conference calls and smart working.
The emergency related to the spread of Coronavirus is redesigning the logic of borders and several countries are taking measures to contain it, limiting the travel of our countrymen. For this reason, it is important to keep up to date with the latest developments of the disease and to inform its employees about it, monitoring the situation through official channels and reliable sources, such as Viaggiare Sicuri – the service of the Farnesina Crisis Unit – which is constantly updated.

Managing your network abroad

Another key aspect concerns the management of customers, employees and partners abroad. At a time of emergency like this, it is important to communicate with your network abroad, keeping you constantly informed about the evolution of the situation and reassuring your contacts with a cautious and proactive attitude. From simple informative emails to the use of social networks, through phone calls and conference calls, you can promptly inform your target audience and spread the perception of having the situation under control.