COVID-19: RWDI Safety Guidelines

COVID-19: Protocols & continuity planning


Last update: 4:31 AM EST on May 26, 2020

____________________________________________________________________________

CURRENT RWDI SAFETY LEVELS

We are applying a level (see below for details) to each region (and specific office, if relevant) to clarify the policies in place. Each level incorporates the guidelines from the preceding levels.

Global:
all offices are at least level 4, unless otherwise specified.

Asia Pacific:
Shanghai is level 4. Trivandrum is level 8. All offices are at level 8.

Americas:
Ontario and Quebec are both level 8.
Philadelphia and New York are level 8.
All other North American offices are level 5. 

Europe:
The UK is level 5. Milan is level 9. 


____________________________________________________________________________

About RWDI’s COVID-19 safety guidelines

The timestamp on this web page reflects our best knowledge at the time of posting. This is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and is not meant to replace any official guidance provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Health Agencies, regional public health authorities, or any other official regulatory body. For any questions and for the latest updates on the status of the COVID-19 outbreak, please seek the advice of your official and local health authority.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Please read in full

Your well-being and safety are our top priority at RWDI. Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, we are taking proactive and precautionary steps to protect our team and, by extension, your loved ones and wider communities.

There are many unknowns regarding COVID-19 and the behavior of this virus, which is now deemed a “pandemic” by the World Health Organization. The purpose of this information is to keep you updated on our steps as an organization. It reflects our best knowledge at the time of writing and will be continually updated as new learnings and developments surface.

We are adopting a level system, ranging from levels 1 to 9, to ensure a clear understanding of the current policies in place at RWDI globally and to keep everyone apprised of new developments and changes as they happen. When a level is applied to a region and/or office, it incorporates the guidelines from the preceding levels.

Note that these levels are not necessarily sequential, but specific levels will be automatically triggered if specific events take place, such as school closures or a public transportation system shutdown.

Please consider this to be your most up-to-date source of information regarding RWDI and our offices. Please refer to this guide regularly. We will send emails to alert you to significant changes, but the website will be accessible to any one at any time.

Also, a regularly updated FAQ section follows these guidelines and will be updated on a regular basis. 

As the situation warrants, we will amend and adjust our policies regularly, but by reading this guide now, we will increase our readiness as a team and be ready to work remotely, if applicable.

In the meantime, thank you for your understanding and patience as we all navigate these unprecedented times. If you are concerned or have questions, please do not hesitate to discuss these matters with your immediate supervisor or HR.

Important note

Regardless of the level, there are two essential steps that every employee is expected to take—and that health authorities have consistently confirmed are essential to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and all viruses:

  1. Please wash your hands frequently throughout the day with warm water and soap. Hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes are helpful, too, but soap is the most effective in making viruses, like COVID-19, inactive. Wearing gloves is not a substitute for handwashing.
  2. Stay home if you are not feeling well. Even if your symptoms are mild, during a pandemic of this nature, you MUST stay home. Consult with local health authorities about next steps.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Safety Guidelines for COVID-19

Level 1 (Standard operations)

  • Vigilant monitoring of any risk to the safety of our team.
  • Consistent use of healthy hygiene habits and practices to prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses https://www.cdc.gov/flu/preven... 
    • Avoid close contact. Keep your distance from people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
    • Stay home when you are sick. Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
    • Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough into your arm/elbow instead of your hand. 
    • Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or cloth.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
    • Practice other good health and wellness habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Level 2 (Restricted travel)

Includes standard guidelines from level 1 with additional restrictions for travel to certain regions.

Effective January 27, 2020 

Travel

  • Travel to the Asia-Pacific region is restricted.
  • All personal travel to the Asia-Pacific region must be reported to an employee’s leader with understanding that a 14-day quarantine period may be imposed upon return.

Policies

  • Employees in our Shanghai and Singapore offices are to work remotely.
  • All meetings with external clients who have been in China recently must be virtual.

Effective February 20, 2020

Escalated travel restrictions

  • All travel to Asia-Pacific countries is suspended
  • Any employees travelling must follow proper precautions to avoid illness including hand sanitation, avoiding crowded areas (social spacing), and using face masks, if appropriate.

Level 3 (Escalated precautions)

Includes all steps from levels 1 and 2, now escalated.

Effective March 6, 2020

Escalated travel restrictions

  • All business travel to restricted areas postponed until local governments lift restrictions on travel and re-entry from these countries. 
  • All non-essential business travel must be reviewed with leaders to determine if it can be postponed. 
  • For business travel to non-restricted regions, employees must discuss with leaders and make other arrangements, should they feel uncomfortable travelling at that time.
  • Personal travel to high-risk countries is discouraged, as is meeting with others who have visited any of these areas in the previous 14 days. Upon return, employees may be asked to self-isolate for two weeks before returning to work.
  • Quarantine decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis, taking the constantly changing extent of the outbreak into account.
  • All travel (personal or business) to be reported to supervisors.
  • Quarantine protocol is also in effect for any staff who share a residence with someone who is asked to self-quarantine.

Facilities

  • Office cleaning and sanitary practices enhanced, including providing staff with access to disinfectants and tissues to maintain personal and workstation hygiene.

Level 4 (Implementation of continuity planning)

Additional steps around policy decisions, travel, and meetings to ensure business continuity. Includes levels 1 through 3, with increased precautions.

Effective March 13, 2020

Travel

  • All travel is suspended unless required for the completion of contractual obligations. Any contractual-related travel must be explicitly approved in advance by HR and your VP. 
  • All inter-office travel is restricted.
  • All conference travel and participation is suspended.
  • Staff are asked to make responsible decisions outside of work, including the postponement of personal travel if possible.
  • Anyone travelling on personal time must disclose their travel to HR before re-entering a shared RWDI workplace.  
  • Anyone in close contact with someone who has recently travelled from abroad should discuss next steps with their leader.

Meetings and on-site visits

  • All in-person meetings are suspended and should be held virtually when possible.
  • On-site visits can continue, but please review in advance with your leader.
  • All in-office tours and meetings with external parties are suspended.

Facilities

  • Please avoid brushing your teeth at work.
  • Please remove any open candy or shared food from the office and/or your personal workspace.
  • Please put dirty dishes and utensils in the dishwasher immediately. Please do not return dishes or cutlery that has been handwashed to cupboards.
  • Please continue to wash your hands before eating.
  • Please use the disinfectant wipes provided to clean off remotes, including keyboards, mouse and telephones before use in conference rooms.
  • Please use the provided disinfectant wipes to wipe down shared surfaces, including doorknobs and tools.

Policy decisions

  • If applicable, please take your laptop home nightly to prepare for an immediate need to transition to remote working.
  • Refrain from shaking hands and hugging. 
  • Please do not initiate any large-scale gatherings. Again, please consider virtual meetings whenever possible. 
  • All activities and meetings where food is shared are postponed.

Recommendations to all RWDI staff

  • We highly encourage all employees to avoid large public gatherings, including concerts and sporting events.
  • We highly recommend that personal travel involving shared transportation (air, bus, train), hotels, parks, or other large gatherings, also be deferred.
  • We encourage all employees to regularly consult their local health authorities and follow their recommendations accordingly.
  • We encourage everyone using public transportation to be especially vigilant. If alternative travel is not possible, please exercise caution, wash hands regularly, and avoid eating on public transportation. 

Effective March 16, 2020

General recommendations

  • Stay home if you are not feeling well. Even if your symptoms are mild, during a pandemic of this nature, you must stay home. Consult with local health authorities about next steps.
  • Please be advised of recommendations by authorities such as the CDC and WHO to avoid crowded places such as bars, theatres and other gatherings. In many jurisdictions these facilities have been already been asked, or strongly urged, to close. We also advise you to please refrain from attending such locations at this time.
  • Please do not take public transport to travel to and from work.

Travel

  • Travel remains suspended.
  • Anyone returning from international travel must self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Anyone who has been in contact or lives with someone who recently returned from international travel needs to self-isolate.

Work-from-home guidelines

  • Staff who can effectively and efficiently work from home are encouraged to do so.
  • Those who can/need to work from home should, once leader approval is received.
  • Anyone who is at higher risk as defined by the CDC, or in regular contact with high-risk family members, will also need to work from home. If you think this might be you, please reach out to your leader to discuss.

Facilities

  • Numbers of people in the lunch or equipment room should be minimized to maintain social distancing. 
  • Staff are asked to eat at their desks if possible.

Meetings and on-site visit

  • Online meetings are strongly encouraged, however, if necessary, small groups of people may use meeting and boardrooms, provided social distancing can be maintained.
  • Contracted field work: field crews will access the office for equipment as needed.  Staff with active field work should minimize their time at the office to reduce possible exposures.

Level 5 (School closures)

  • In the event of school closures, we recognize that some parents may need to work remotely. Prior approval must be obtained before working from home. 
  • Maintaining our level of service and quality is essential; barring sickness, working from the office is always our preferred option. 
  • As well, your senior leadership is working on contingency plans to minimize the impact of this disruption to ensure we can deliver on client expectations.

Level 6 (Public transportation closures)

  • If you cannot make it to work because of a public transportation disruption, please seek approval to work from home.

Level 7 (Employee infection with COVID-19)

  • Should an employee at one of our offices become infected with COVID-19, we will immediately contact local health authorities and follow their advice and guidelines. 
  • We are currently developing a plan, unique to our operations, to reduce the impact of an exposure, should this occur.

Level 8 (Remote working)

Should office closures be mandated by government agencies, we will communicate a remote-working plan where applicable.

Effective March 13, 2020

  • Shanghai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Milan office staff are currently working from home.

Effective March 16, 2020

  • Sydney office staff are working from home.

Level 9 (Office closure)

  • If we close any or all our offices, we will notify all staff by email and update this document accordingly.
  • Despite any closures, we will continue to make every effort to ensure that our clients’ needs are met during this disruption.
  • Effective March 13, our Shanghai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Milan offices are closed, and employees are working remotely.

_____________________________________________________________________________

COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

On the FAQ page you can find the answers to frequently asked questions about RWDI's COVID-19 guidelines, which will be updated regularly.