Thursday, August 27, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Joanna Strahan, C2C Process

When you set off for an evening with friends at an all you can eat buffet, you will probably avoid wearing your glamorous but unforgiving jeans. Instead, you wear something loose which provides some room to move.

It is no different in business. You need to plan for growth and be agile and responsive to change. That way you will not outgrow your processes.

How Can Your Business Processes Keep Pace as Your Business Grows?
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Thursday, August 6, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Marta Kalas, Thomson Screening

When you are facing the realities of running a business during a pandemic you need to use all the tools available to you.

In the UK, businesses need to re-open and also need to plan so that staff, customers and visitors are protected. As a business, you probably already have a good supply of PPE, plus information about how to control infection and clean areas. That is fine for now, but what about next week and next month? How will you know when your risks increase, and you need to take different steps? Will you be able to notice a new source of infection in good time? This is where regular and methodical testing can help.

Health Testing in Your Organization
Image: Jump Story

It is important to understand that testing can only help if it is effective, and that means being part of a concerted effort with a systematic plan.

Right now, it is a confusing topic and good advice is hard to find. Until the government offers specific guidelines, you need to use your common sense and do the best you can.

You need practical steps you can take to manage testing in your SME. Let’s review what is required.

First of all, the best advice is still to ask staff to monitor symptoms and be aware of what additional risks each staff member may be exposed to.  For example, are they living in a communal environment like a house-share, are they part of a large family with most members working and using public transport, do they use public transport themselves to come to work? All of these will increase their risk. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come to work – it’s simply something to be aware of and bear in mind when working out your testing plan.

There are a number of issues to consider when setting up a testing program and you need to be extremely careful about some of the hidden implications. It is not simply a medical or clinical question, the personal privacy aspects are just as important.

When designing a testing program ensure it is:

  • Planned and documented
  • Systematic (even if you are doing random checks, you need to make it clear who is tested, when and how)
  • Actionable: you need to know what specific action you will take if certain results are found
  • Follows Public Health England (PHE) guidelines and if possible is carried out under clinical supervision. The latter may not be possible, although many occupational health physicians can provide this as a service.

The testing programme must also avoid these pitfalls:

  • Improvising/introducing the latest test available without considering the implications
  • Testing must not lead to discrimination or the perception of discrimination
  • Once the data is no longer needed it needs to be destroyed and the process documented
  • Using tests that are not approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
  • Interpreting results to one’s own purposes
  • Using a system where security of data cannot be guaranteed (e.g. Excel)

In addition, there are a number of questions you need to ask when creating a testing program:

  • What type of information will you be collecting and what action will you follow if you found it? For example: Will it lead to more testing of a specific group? How will PPE use need to change? Will shift patterns or workflow etc. need to change?
  • What other information will you need to record in order to give context to the testing? For example, this could be linked to risk factors like ethnicity or sharing a household with a person who is at higher risk.

Example questions, with possible answers, might be:

Why are you in isolation or being tested?

  1. I have symptoms (go to symptoms checker)
  2. I have tested positive but have no symptoms
  3. Someone else in my household has symptoms
  4. Some in my household tested positive but has no symptoms

If you have symptoms, did they start:

  1. Less than 7 days ago
  2. Between 7 and 14 days ago
  • What type of test needs to be carried out in relation to any symptoms? Will tests need to be repeated and, if so, at what intervals?
  • How will you manage repeated testing? How long is the information valid?

The timing of these questions and answers as well as the related test result is really important; each test is only effective for a very precise period. Test at the wrong time, and the results will lose their meaning. However, the combination of the test result in relation to the timing of the symptoms is really meaningful. This is why it’s important to capture these together.

All of these questions need to be asked and answered. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that your current system for recording HR data is ready for the challenge, so a new system of Covid-19 testing is needed.

For example, Thomson Covid-19 Test Manager is a new software platform that manages the testing process, irrespective of where, how and what test is carried out. By using a dedicated testing platform to manage the process, it will be much easier to track the results, know what actions to take, and ensure that everyone who needs to be tested is tested.

There is some evidence that people with a BAME background may be at higher risk. This may mean that they need to be treated differently (for example, testing more regularly, or shorter intervals between tests), however, it is essential that you avoid any form of discrimination.

What is the best way to manage this? My advice is to be open and transparent about why and how you want to manage the testing, and, if necessary, get some advice/training about sensitive communication with employees at risk.

Talk to everyone on your team about the reporting procedure if an employee is found to have Covid-19; how testing will change or increase if a customer or supplier reports they have Covid-19; and what actions will be taken, if any individual tests positive. These areas need to be considered and procedures decided in advance of the testing program getting underway.

In the UK businesses have specific legal requirements to fulfill a duty of care as an employer.  As there are grey areas it is important to get legal advice to avoid any conflict with existing employment law.  More generally once you have specific advice, both on the clinical and legal aspects of your testing program, combined with well-understood plans, you’ll be in a good position to implement your health testing program.


Marta Kalas
    
Marta Kalas is co-founder of Thomson Screening, developers of the Thomson Covid-19 Test Manager software platform that enables testing providers to scale irrespective of where, how and what test is carried out. Functions include automated reporting at the local and national levels for bodies including Public Health, Community Health, and Employers with data reporting into other systems, as required.

A separate module using questionnaire and risk assessment methodology enables local residents to self-report Covid-19 symptoms with automated reporting to local (or national) Public Health and the ability to automatically push out messaging specific to the individual with symptoms.

Thomson Covid-19 Test Manager is designed to adapt rapidly to fast-changing requirements and is fully scalable. The Innovate UK grant enables Thomson Screening to utilize investments made in the core functionality of the company’s products used in the NHS, especially its SchoolScreener Imms product, to rapidly repurpose and deploy the software.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post or content are those of the authors or the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company.

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Thursday, July 23, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Sarah Lewis, C.Psychol., Appreciating Change

Although some people are used to remote working for many it is something new that we have to get to grips with. Some find that the necessary adjustments come naturally to them, for others the new situation presents challenges. So, how can we, as owners or employees help ourselves and our teams make the most of remote working in ways that suits the organization, and also the individual involved?

Challenges of Remote Working
Image: Jump Story

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Thursday, July 16, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Sid Madge, author of ‘Meee in a Work Minute’

There is little doubt that change is upon us in 2020. But before we all rush to get back to a pre-Covid normal maybe it’s time to redesign something better for ourselves, our businesses, and our planet.

As Arthur Ashe, Tennis champion and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient wisely said:

Most people resist change, even when it promises to be for the better. But change will come, and if you acknowledge this simple but indisputable fact of life, and understand that you must adjust to all change, then you will have a head start.

Ideas for Improving Your Work-Life
Image: Pickit

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Monday, July 6, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Rosie Tomkins, author of ‘N-stinctive’

In stressful times with much uncertainty to contend with, it is no surprise that some of us are losing the feeling of excitement and passion for our businesses. However, there is good news even in these difficult times; you can reconnect with the passion that led you into your business, and in the process create a new balance in your life.

Picnic f0134315
Image: Pickit

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Monday, June 8, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Rosie Tomkins, author of ‘N-stinctive’

Humankind has benefited immensely from technology but as we move towards an ease in the COVID-19 lockdown constraints in some parts of the world we need to ask ourselves: is our modern way of operating what we really want? Will the long-term effect on our way of living be a positive one?

The decisions we make will have a long-lasting effect – particularly on our younger generation and the leaders of tomorrow.

Penguins
Image: Pickit

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Monday, June 1, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Sarah Lewis, C.Psychol., Appreciating Change

Around the world, countries are still in lockdown. In the UK, the process of reducing restrictions is starting. However, this cannot be regarded as a return to normal. Businesses need to think of the changing situation as moving forward into a new normal. Handling this, with the continuing reality of Covid-19, will require resilience and adaptability from business owners.

Resilience Pickit
Image: Pickit

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Monday, May 11, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Chantal Cooke, Panpathic Communications

When Covid-19 struck there were many things for businesses to think about. For the last few weeks, most have been fire-fighting: making provision for team members working from home; analyzing the various forms of government help and evaluating how best it can be applied in our particular businesses; projecting the immediate and the longer-term financial impacts. Simultaneously, we’ve had to make changes at home: deciding how best to look out for vulnerable relatives and friends; learning what two meters look like; unexpectedly having to take on educating our children and entertaining them — all day long.

The world is different. But not unrecognizably so. The future we thought we were heading for is different too. But it is more likely to be one with fully stocked pasta shelves than Hunger Games. So, when we get back to normal or become accustomed to a close-as-we-can-get-to-normal interim period, you and your business need to be fit-for-purpose. And you will need to make sure your customers know it.

PR Press
Image: Pixabay

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Thursday, May 7, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Sarah Lewis, C.Psychol., Appreciating Change

In business, we have to keep managing in the face of the threat posed by Covid-19. As lockdown continues, many of us, both business owners and employees, are feeling much more anxious than usual. It’s easy for this to become a downward cycle of worry, lethargy, and depression. The threat is real, and we can’t make it go away. What we can do is boost our resilience, finding ways to keep our spirits up.

Two principles are particularly useful. First, managing anxiety takes mental strength and energy, if we don’t actively recharge, we will become depleted. Secondly, the state of our morale affects the state of our immune system (At this point I have to say this doesn’t mean that anyone who becomes ill wasn’t positive enough!). So, if we pro-actively attend to our morale, we are also pro-actively attending to our health.

8 Tips for Keeping Up Morale
Image: Pickit

Let’s look at some ideas you can share in your business and encourage everyone to implement:

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Monday, May 4, 2020
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

By Rosie Tomkins, author of ‘N-stinctive’

What was our first reaction to the news of the Covid-19 pandemic?

A wave of disbelief, that disrupted our normal working patterns significantly and maybe irretrievably.

This, unwanted shunt of nature has caused heartbreak and isolation to many. The energy we all feel right now is sadness, anxiety, despair, uncertainty, and lack of control. Lockdown with our families does not replace the energy of our work teams and our colleagues and we can feel as if we have been caged.

So how do we find some uplift or precious sustenance, for our new journey ahead?

Natural Intelligence
Image: Scopio

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