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Covid-19 Measures


Hello and thank you for joining me for this video. HTM provides bilingual, comprehensive back-office services for foreign companies in Japan.

COVID-19 has changed every aspect of our daily lives. In this video, I'll share with you how HTM is reducing the risk of COVID-19 within our company.

Rules (0:41)
COVID-19 is manageable. How? by following these 5 simple rules:
 1. Assume all people, surfaces, and objects have the virus
 2. Keep 2 meters of distance
 3. Wear a mask
 4. Avoid confined spaces with poor ventilation
 5. And wash your hands often, especially after touching anything that may be contaminated

While these rules are simple, following them is hard.

Principles (1:09)
HTM has combined these 5 rules into 3 simple, but effective principles:
 • Minimize your travel
 • Keep social distance
 • Always disinfect

By following these principles, transmission can be controlled, allowing us to continue serving our role -- providing services to over 200 companies and their several thousand employees.

Minimize travel (1:35)
Minimizing travel reduces the risk of infection.

Our IT infrastructure team did a remarkable job in providing excellent equipment and secure access to our servers for people to work from home and minimize their travel.

In the office, having good equipment, properly set up and maintained for video conferencing, has made it easier to keep teams together, and to maintain close support to our clients.

The result is this: Whether in the office, or from home, we work as one team internally and with our clients.

Our software development team created tools to let us know where people are, and to let us know if they are available. Color indicates whether the person is in the office, at home, or unavailable. A border means the person has stepped away from their computer. Hovering a mouse over a person's name provides their contact information.

When people do need to come to the office, they commute during off-peak hours.

Visiting clients and others is out of the question, so all meetings are done through video conferencing.

These measures minimize travel for our people and also reduces the number of people in the office -- which better enables social distancing.

Social distance (2:54)
We apply social distancing by:
 1. Maintaining 2 meters distance.
This is done by spreading out work stations and limiting the number of people allowed in meeting rooms.
 2. When visiting someone's desk, we avoid coming close and standing over someone when talking to them.

What we do instead, is we keep 2 meters distance while speaking at the same level.

When sharing a document, we take turns getting close to the documents or monitor. In practice, we find this one especially tough, as people are used to huddling around information.

When placing objects on a person's desk, We either ask first and receive permission, or if possible, digitize it and send it electronically.

COVID-19 has moved us away from the traditional paper-based system in Japan, and driven us to find alternative ways to pass information around the office.

 3. We provide a safe lunch environment
Only catering staff is allowed to move food from the buffet to individual plates.

People only touch their plate -- not the counter, or other serving dishes

We maintain a social distance of 2 meters while lining up, and spread seats apart from each other in all directions. We also double up tables to avoid sitting closely facing each other.

The lunchroom was designed to hold 80 people. It now holds 20.

 4. Wearing a face mask around the company is essential. When handling a mask, people should only touch the loops of the mask, and never the front.

If you do touch the mask front, assume your hands are now contaminated. That means any item, such as paper or mouse someone else touches after you will have their hands contaminated.

We must remember to take personal responsibility -- not only for adapting to these new rules, but for continuously observing and reminding our team members. Social distancing works. However, frequent disinfecting is equally important.

Always disinfect (5:03)
Disinfecting surfaces prevents transmission through contaminated objects. Good practice is to assume all surfaces and objects are contaminated unless you know otherwise. This is our disinfecting practice:
 1. We place hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes in many locations on each floor. Proper use of hand sanitizers requires pressing the pump the full distance to dispense the correct amount of alcohol solution, fully covering our hands and rubbing until dry.

 2. We provide people with a personal alcohol spray. We disinfect our desks every morning, and after any new object is placed on it.

 3. We disinfect desks, conference tables, chair arm rests, chair backs, keyboards and mice before and after every meeting.

 4. We disinfect communal areas hourly. On each floor, people rotate this task each and every hour and disinfect frequently touched surfaces: such as door handles, elevator buttons, and water dispensers. We let the cleaning solution sit on the surfaces for a few minutes before gently wiping off any excess.

 5. We receive all deliveries at the building entrance. Delivery people are not allowed to further enter the building.

All items received are taken to the designated disinfecting station before the contents are opened. Our practice is to assume both the outside and inside of an envelope or box is contaminated. As such, we disinfect the outside with a cleaning solution, and as much as possible, the inside content too. Then, we redirect the contents to the intended recipient within the company. The person receiving the document should assume the contents are contaminated, and handle with caution.

We do not wear gloves around the company, as improper use of gloves can increase the chance of transmission. This is because the virus can survive longer on non-porous surfaces, such latex gloves for up to 72 hours.

Hand washing (7:07)
Instead, we wash our hands often, and thoroughly. Proper hand washing includes scrubbing the backs of our hands and wrists, and should last 20 seconds or more.

We also pay attention to the air flow inside our office. To prevent transmission, the air in the room should flow vertically downwards, and not horizontally across. Vertical airflow ensures the virus particles are pushed downwards, and not being passed around the room.

Air purifiers (7:36)
At HTM, we placed 25 HEPA air purifiers across 5 floors in our office. The air purifiers we use are designed to sweep away dirty air from the bottom of the room, and filters clean, purified air to the top. The clean air then pushes the dirty air downwards, creating vertical airflow and allowing continuous filtering of the room.

These are the measures HTM has implemented to do everything possible to eliminate the spread of COVID-19. In order to stay healthy and continue providing services to our clients, each one of us plays a vital role in ensuring we follow the three principles; minimize your travel, keep social distance, and always disinfect.

While these measures may seem extreme, when dealing with a virus that is silent, unseen, and highly contagious, the devil is in the details. To follow these rules, we have to break old habits and establish a new normal.

We will never know if we are being too careful. However, we will certainly know if we aren't careful enough. Thank you for watching.

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