In only a few weeks, the outbreak of coronavirus has changed the nature of work drastically. However, after a long time, the lockdown restrictions are being lifted and offices are getting ready to open their doors. But one thing to remember is that the virus is still present and there are possibilities for even new pathogens to disturb humans again. Hence, if you are planning to reopen your office building, it is crucial to do it rightly taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of your staff and their families.
As the world is slowly getting settled, the future new normal is going to be safe workplaces rather than working from home. But again encouraging your employees to attend the office is a little tough. Most employees are worried to head back to the office due to the risks of catching viruses while working with colleagues or traveling. So, it is vital for you as an employer to assure the safety of their health and well being when you open doors for them. If you are wondering how to do it then stick till the end. This article walks you through simple tips and measures to make your office safer during COVID-19.
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Limit Common Surfaces
Common surfaces which most people touch are harmful and risky to your staff. So eliminate common surfaces such as desks, door handles, switches, faucets etc.
Rearrange your office furniture and redesign seating so that either one or two workers share a desk.
You can leave doors open or swing so that your staff can push them with foot or shoulder and avoid touching handles. In the same way, automate lights and add motion sensors in the office, and bathrooms so that one need not touch switches and faucets.
Also, limit the number of times your staff uses the same equipment. Embrace the technology, invest in new equipment such as covid screening tool to screen staff, visitors, contractors and customers by just letting them scan QR codes. This way the staff need not come in contact with the person while screening and the tool stores the temperatures securely.
Provide Hand Washes & Sanitizers
As you know cleaning hands has become critical, provide enough hand washes in the areas where washing hands is possible and hand sanitizers where it is not. Although placing hand sanitizers at reception tables is there for decades, most people don’t use them. But that is not the case now.
Ensure everybody who enters uses sanitizers. To avoid touching the bottles, you can place automatic sanitizer dispensers at the entrance, reception and other common areas.
Cut down the staff in your work area and ensure they follow social distance complying with a 2-meter distance between two people.
Review your staff, their login and logout times, shifts and remote work candidates to revise the schedule and reduce the number of employees working at the office at any one time. Make work schedules more flexible with multiple shifts. Your staff will appreciate you for escaping them from hectic traffic and early morning alarms, the productivity remains the same though.
Ensure there are posters in common areas reminding social distance. You can make social distancing more effective by allowing only one person in small rooms, kitchens and toilets. Also, make entrances, exits, corridors, stairwells, a one-way system.
Ask your employees to wear masks where social distancing is not possible.
Limit People on Floor
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading is to limit the number of people on your office premises. As you have already cut down the number of employees working in the workplace at any one time, make sure you also limit the number of visitors and contractors. Give strict instructions and let people know they are restricted to visit unless there is an emergency. You should also record the details of every visitor to have handy as you never know when it becomes necessary.
In the same way, restrict only a few contractors who are assigned for cleaning, waste management etc and ensure they follow strict COVID-19 guidelines.
Take Advantage of Technology
As said, adopt new technology to avoid sharing or touching common areas. Invest in personal laptops or phones for staff. This limits the sharing of keyboards, mouses and reduces the mess of wires and other objects on the desk. Rely on emails or messages rather than face to face meetings and use Bluetooth to connect to conference calls and avoid touching speakers or phones.
Replace physical meetings with customers, clients and other businesses with video conferencing and avoid travelling.
Clean & Disinfect Surfaces More Often
Take actions as discussed above to reduce the number of objects on the desk and floor, so that cleaning becomes easy. Also, make sure your cleaning staff cleans and disinfects frequently touched areas such as door handles, windows, refrigerators, printers, keyboards, and other tools more often. These things have to be disinfected after each shift.
Get Enough Stock of Essentials
As a necessary precaution, stock the first aid kit with essential supplies such as medicines, surgical masks, wipes etc. If possible, provide wipes and sanitizers in all common areas of your office building so that your staff won’t find any difficulty when they forget to carry their personal stock.
Promote Mental Health
The pandemic has also caused mental health issues and these issues might grow with social distancing measures. So, consider promoting the mental wellbeing of your employees by interacting with them more often. Offer support and motivate them whenever required and ensure there is a counsellor available to deal or support them if required.
Most importantly conduct activities that boost mental well-being and creativity as it would be difficult for people to get back to normal work from a long remote work culture.
Finally, redesign your work policies in a way that primarily focuses on employee safety. Let your workers work from home if they show any symptoms or fear of catching the virus. This not only helps the infected or potential ones from risk but also their colleagues and their families.
Heading back to office spaces and opening doors for employees is a big deal during this time. Employers have to take many important measures to stop spreading the virus and provide a safer work environment for employees. However, that need not be painful as safer workplaces with changed realities are going to be the new normal. As a safer workplace during COVID-19 is more than just social distancing, masks, and hygiene, take care of the mental well being and physical health of your employees. By strictly following all these measures, you will not only get through this pandemic but stay stable even if any new pathogens emerge.