Put your employees’ safety first with these practices when returning to the office for the new normal.
As the country begins to recover from the pandemic, some employees are heading back to the office. There have to be some permanent changes in the work environment to provide safety for workers. For owners, the challenge will be to mitigate risk, and here are some practices that will help you put your employees’ safety first, besides social distancing.
In this first wave of re-opening, that being 50% of employees at a time, the priority should be changing (if possible) the office furniture to provide more distance between employees, to comply with social distancing protocols. Employees’ desks should be six feet apart from each other and visual cues should be enforced as well to keep the distance rule in mind. One-way traffic can be applied to avoid unnecessary contact with others.
Many businesses have already installed plexiglass barriers, however, these same shields can be used in the office as well. For example, in high-traffic areas like conference rooms (try to avoid using closed rooms), or between employees’ desks. If you can’t install plexiglass barriers for some reason you might want to get creative in this case and make a barrier of some sort to keep your employees calm.
Some large spaces can’t be used as intended like conference rooms or cafeterias, lounges, or any communal space, but they can be repurposed for temporary workspaces so your employees can spread out even more and you can even have some workers outdoors if the weather is permitting.
Air it Out
Opening windows prevents the spread of coronavirus as well as working for climate control. Do not use air conditions or heaters because they re-circulate the air in the office which can transmit particles to other spaces. Many office buildings don’t have the luxury to be able to open windows, if that is your case, avoid working near the a/c or heater since this is where particles get trapped.
If possible upgrade your HVAC system to improve airflow and filter contaminants.
Be Clean and Safe
Having extra hand sanitizers throughout the office is a good idea, not only in common areas but in personal areas as well. If it’s possible supply every worker with their own sanitizer.
You should wash your hands frequently, and only use hand sanitizer when hand washing facilities are not available.
Encourage your workers to communicate by calling or emailing instead of face to face. Eating meals at your desk or car instead of in a lunch room.
Discourage sharing equipment or supplies between your workers.
Keep your offices clean. This is critical, all surfaces must be clean & disinfected to reduce your employees’ exposure to bacteria. If you can’t find any disinfecting wipes you can DIY some solutions. The CDC has some alternative solutions to make your own wipes and sprays. You can also use bleach as well while allowing the surface to air dry for at least a minute. Make sure to follow the manufactures instructions ensuring correct application. Always remember to wear the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as gloves, safety glasses, and face masks unless otherwise directed.
Lastly, you can schedule your employees on a rotating schedule to work onsite & remotely. Of course, office meetings should be avoided or put on hold, or at least be done in a different way, avoiding a gathering of people in a closed space is never a good idea.
Stay safe and be well!