COVID-19: Action Plan for Small Companies

Indow is a manufacturing company based in Portland, Oregon, one of the first US cities to experience community transmission of the COVID-19 virus. We have several treasured employees who fall into the high-risk category for a severe, life-threatening infection, which is an important reminder that even if you are not at risk for a life-threatening infection, you can be a carrier to those at risk. We want to do whatever we can to protect them and everyone else at our 40 person company. While the number of infected people in the Portland area is still relatively small, we believe it’s vital to begin our response strategy immediately to give us time to cement behavioral changes before infection or panic become widespread. In our organization there are many who are deeply concerned. 

In response to this challenge, we have created and implemented a fairly comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation plan, which is available here.

Read our CEO’s full response to the risk of COVID-19.

Door leading into office with sign posted containing hygiene information

Stickers mark what must be cleaned. Fliers on maintaining good hygiene are posted on doors.


Updated 3/12/2020:

One of the main principles of our COVID-19 mitigation action plan is continuous improvement. We responded quickly, which was a high priority, but that doesn’t mean our plan shouldn’t evolve as we learn more about the novel coronavirus and our habits.

We are reducing our cleaning time and the possibility of spreading the virus by eliminating transmission points (high touch areas). This includes adding hooks to doors so we no longer need hands to open them, but can use our forearms, and adding a foot handle to our refrigerator door. We have also halted using community dishes. Indow is allowing employees to claim a set of dishes as their own for now so everyone is responsible for their own use and cleansing.

door with hook over doorknob to avoid transmission point for COVID-19 

This door hook and other small innovations help eliminate transmission points like doorknobs.


Updated 3/16/2020:

Today, Indow implemented our telecommuting phase, encouraging all those who can work from home to do so. We believe this is the best way to protect all our employees, even those who still need to come into the office, as it reduces transmission points by reducing contact. We have been preparing for this day by testing remote by department to ensure technical needs were met and hosting an in-house webinar on productivity while working from home.
For employees who need to come in to our factory we continue to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our Clean plan by incorporating Gemba walks which help identify places for improvement. Effective immediately, all employees now have access to 80 hours of ETO to recover offsite. This is to ensure that no employee will suffer financially by staying home or risk coming to work at any sign of illness. Our continued and mutual trust is key to successfully mitigating this pandemic.
working remote successfully webinar with Indow

Updated 3/23/2020:

Oregon Public Broadcasting visited Indow to review and share our Clean Manufacturing practices. Reporter Kate Davidson was able to see many of our methods in action, as Sam walked her around the office and warehouse. Her hope is that other small businesses or large manufacturing facilities can use the practices we’ve developed to survive the pandemic and thrive afterward. Read her article, Ditch The Doorknobs: A Portland Company’s Coronavirus Response. Or, listen below.