Companies all over the country are implementing plans to go back to work safely following the Coronavirus shut-down. Freelancers may want to follow suit.
Whether it involves scouring public surfaces, stocking-up on protective gear or retrofitting your workspace, If you want to go back to work safely, you’ll need to take precautions.
“Mundane activities have a risk-reward profile that we never had before,” says Daniel Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, a crisis response and management firm. “But there are ways of minimizing risks.”
A way back
As the nation prepares to go back to some version of normal, companies are creating new procedures to keep both staff and customers safe. For example, Marriott is using electrostatic sprayers to disinfect carpets and curtains and is revamping lobbies to ease social distancing. Wonderschool is recommending that all of its daycare centers implement new rules for sterilization and sickness, including daily fever checks for both staff and children. In addition to sterilizing, the popular Paradise Cove Restaurant in Malibu is changing seating protocols. The restaurant will leave some booths empty to keep diners at a safe distance from one another.
What should freelancers do?
Some freelancers — virtual assistants, mock jurors, and online tutors, for instance — have little risk of infection for themselves or their clients. For them, it’s basically business as usual.
Other types of freelance work are also likely to put you in contact with people or things that could carry germs. However, nearly every job can be made safer by following the recommended protocols in these fields.
For instance, Uber, Lyft and Via drivers may want to require all passengers to wear face masks and submit to temperature screening before they get in the car. This may require having face masks available for riders who don’t have them, as well as a contactless thermometer. Drivers may also want to wear masks and gloves to ensure they don’t come in contact with infected surfaces.
In normal times, contactless thermometers cost $30 to $50. Today, they’re selling for closer to $100. Paper masks and plastic gloves cost less than $1 each.
Whether you want to invest in more costly protective measures, such as putting a barrier between the driver and passenger areas of the car, would likely hinge on just how often you use your vehicle for work. If you make a full-time living at it, outfitting your car like a taxi could be worthwhile. However, the more you use your car for personal reasons, the less this makes sense.
Then, too, post-shift cleaning procedures may need an upgrade. Vacuuming seats doesn’t rid them of germs and, where soap and water does, it could also ruin them. Richards recommends a UVC wand or UVC light to disinfect surfaces that can’t be cleaned with water or Lysol. UVC light kills most viruses within minutes. However, it’s dangerous for both eyes and skin. Be sure to use these tools with caution.
Sites such as CozyMeal and EatWith, give cooks a way to offer cooking classes and in-home meals for groups. However, like restaurants, they may want to put more space between seats and impose stricter limits on the number of guests that can be accommodated.
Since it’s impossible to wear a mask while eating, cooks may also want to health-screen their guests. However, if you prohibit anyone with cold or flu symptoms from attending meals in your home, you should adjust your cancelation policies.
Sites typically charge cancelation fees on behalf of cooks to protect them from using their time and supplies on no-shows. But the sites usually allow the cook to decide how strict to make those rules. In an environment where sick guests can’t be tolerated, you may need to allow last-minute cancellations.
Sterilizing your space, from cooking surfaces to floors, also has never been more important. Be aware that one of the main ways Coronavirus can be spread is on the soles of your shoes, says Richards.
It’s not unreasonable to ask guests to leave foot ware at the door. Also plan to mop with soap and water after every event.
Rental site hosts
Hosts with home-rental sites such as Airbnb, Peerspace and Giggster, meanwhile, may want to add a cleaning fee sufficient to pay for deep cleaning of their residences before and after the rental.
Since this could be costly and time consuming, adjusting your Airbnb listing to require a minimum stay might also be advisable. (Peerspace and Giggster rent homes by the hour for events, usually paying many times more per day than Airbnb.)
If you’re renting just part of your space, or plan to be on site when it’s rented, also consider imposing health and social distancing protocols on guests — at least with respect to their contact with you.
Beauticians and movers
Hairdressers, manicurists, cosmetologists and movers all have similar problems. The nature of their job means they must touching other people or other people’s stuff. To avoid contracting the virus from those people or their possessions, you should wear a mask and gloves. And, you may ask your customers to do the same.
In addition to washing your hands frequently, know that your own clothing could hold traces of the virus when you go home. Placing a laundry basket and a change of clothes in your garage can allow you to keep those germs out of your living space. Also leave your shoes at the door.
Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate all risk. But as more becomes known about this virus, it becomes easier to reduce your risk to a level where it can at least feel safe to go back to work.