We’re only 3 months into 2020, but already it feels like so much has happened this year, doesn’t it? One of the biggest things that’s swept the world by storm is the novel coronavirus COVID-19. With the amount of media coverage it gets on a daily basis, no doubt it’s been a topic on your mind lately, too.

The good news is that it’s been reported recently that over half of coronavirus patients globally have since recovered – yay!

That being said, we’re not out of the woods yet. Concerns are still high and precautions need to be taken. As a designer, you often work in close proximity to your clients. But this doesn’t mean you can’t still do your job! There are preventative measures that you and your clients can take to help minimize the risk of exposure to germs, and maximize your chances of staying healthy!

Here are 4 simple tips you can start implementing right away…

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Wash your hands

There are plenty of other daily instances that warrant a good hand washing, but we’d be here forever if we tried to list them all! Our point is, germs spread very easily, and they spread often.

We’re not telling you to be afraid of touching every little thing, but we are saying that doing what you can to keep yourself sanitized as often as realistically possible will help better your chances of staying safe and healthy.

When meeting face-to-face with your client, ensure your hands are clean coming into the appointment. If you’re to be handling any of their belongings or furniture, wash your hands first. Keep hand sanitizer on you, and use it if necessary. Not only will it help to keep you and your client safe physically, but it’ll likely also help alleviate some of your client’s mental concerns.

Oh, and don’t forget: do your best not to touch your face!

Pro tip: Studies show that you should wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds, using soap and warm water. If unsure how long that is, you can always hum the ‘Happy birthday’ tune from start to finish (twice). Here are 10 other catchy songs you can wash your hands to!

Reschedule appointments if you’re sick

If you have an appointment with a client, but you’ve been coughing, sneezing, or running a fever, do NOT go.

But I haven’t been out of the country in years, and neither has anyone else I know!” Alright, that’s fair. But think about the number of total strangers we interact with, or even just walk by, on a daily basis. You may know for certain that you and your friends aren’t infected – but who’s to say that the co-worker of the guy you bumped into at the bus station isn’t?

If you’re feeling under the weather in any way, trust us: it’s not worth the risk! Yes, chances are you don’t have the coronavirus and it most likely is nothing but a common cold. But unless you can 100% GUARANTEE that (as in, you’ve recently tested negative for COVID-19), you shouldn’t be exposing anyone to your germs – especially your clients.

The best possible thing you can do in this situation is apologize to your client and ask to reschedule the appointment. In light of the mass media coverage the coronavirus has been getting lately, we’re pretty sure your clients would be more than understanding.

Just be realistic about when to reschedule it; if it’s Monday and you’re feeling sick, you’ll probably still be contagious two or three days later. At minimum, try to reschedule the appointment no sooner than one week later (if possible).

Another option, if you don’t want to cancel the appointment outright, is to hold a video conference over Skype, Zoom, or some other web app. With a video call and screen-sharing, you can likely accomplish everything you set out to do during a face-to-face meeting with your client, and you don’t have to leave your office!

Encourage your clients to do the same

The above doesn’t just apply to you, as the professional. If your client is visibly ill, or calls you ahead of time to warn you that they’re sick, you can encourage them to reschedule their appointment or see if they’re open to a teleconference.

What if they insist they’re fine (when you know they’re not), and want to proceed with the appointment anyway? Here’s a fun fact to always keep in mind: if their health poses a risk to your own (or anyone else’s), you DO have the right to refuse work with a sick client.

You can reschedule to a different time. Just remember to be gentle in your approach!

In fact, because of the coronavirus outbreak, it might not hurt to take a look over whatever cancellation policy you currently have, and amend it accordingly. At least for the time being.

If you can’t reschedule…

Let’s say your client absolutely cannot reschedule, or you’re in a position where you can’t personally afford to lose the day’s work. There are still measures you can take to minimize the chances of spreading whatever it is you have to anyone else:

  • Wear a mask and gloves. While masks don’t really help prevent you from getting sick, they will help stop you from spreading your germs to others. The gloves will definitely come in handy if the project requires you to touch or handle any of your client’s belongings.
  • Give clients and colleagues a head’s up. If you’re sick, make sure anyone coming into direct (or even indirect) contact with you knows it. That way, they can keep their distance, if need be.
  • No direct contact. Actually, while we’re at it, it may just be best if you avoid touching other people altogether. That’s the quickest way to transfer germs from one host to another. Sorry, no hugs or handshakes for you today!

Offer your clients E-Design options

For those who aren’t familiar with this service, it’s essentially the design work you’d do for a client, but entirely online. E-Design is a very useful service option for long-distance clients who may wish to work with a particular designer, but live outsider of that designer’s local radius. (QC Design graduate and professional Interior Decorator, Marianna Zimmerman, can attest to this!)

Local clients can, and often do, also benefit from E-Design services! For them, it can be a more affordable way to work with a designer, offer professional design consulting for DIY projects, and/or allow them to have a more direct role to play in their home project.

Any of the following services could easily translate easily into E-Design:

With everything currently going on regarding the coronavirus, there are many people who may not want to be in contact with others unless absolutely necessary. As a designer, providing your clients with the option to conduct business electronically shows your flexibility as a professional.

If nothing else, limiting physical contact – at least for a portion of the project – will definitely up your chances of keeping all parties safer!

While it’d be easier for everyone to isolate themselves in little bubbles until this whole coronavirus outbreak blows over, that’s not realistic for everyone. Some of us need to continue going about our regular lives. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still protect ourselves and our clients.

So long as we ensure to take all the necessary precautions, and we keep ourselves informed on all news updates on the situation, we’re giving ourselves, our clients, and our businesses the best possible chances of remaining healthy and safe!

Interested in being a professional designer, and wondering what sort of salary you’d be looking at in 2020? Find out everything you need to know here!

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