Preparing your Office in a Pandemic
There are just some things we can never prepare for, and the pandemic is one of them. It’s been more than a year now since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and sometimes it seems like we’re back to square one with all the news going on about the status of the pandemic. It seems like this pandemic isn’t going anywhere for a while.
Still, your office and business needs to move on, and we’ve moved past the full work from home set up. We are starting to move back into the office, and try to resume our lives in the new normal so preparing your office workspace during this pandemic is a precautionary measure to ensure you stay healthy despite the virus going around.
Whether you’re a business owner, a manager, or simply a concerned employee, discuss measures with your supervisors to make onsite work better for everyone. Here are 5 easy ways you can prepare your office in a pandemic:
1. Disinfecting your office space
One of the most important protocols to employ during the pandemic is disinfection. Disinfecting office space and furniture prevents viruses from growing and spreading; thus, avoiding infections around the office.
For the best protection against the Covid-19 virus, use strong disinfectants like Lysol Disinfecting Spray, 70% Rubbing Alcohol, or other similar solutions can be used to sanitize personal spaces like your office desk and chair. Communal spaces need to be sanitized everyday to prevent the spread of germs.
Schedule a professional disinfection service with a good cleaning company regularly to manage the virus, and keep it away from your office. Their industrial-strength disinfectant solutions can get rid of any virus lingering around your office. Plus, they can work off hours too, so your work doesn’t get disrupted.
2. Setting up disinfection stations
Besides disinfecting the office, the employees will need to disinfect themselves as they go throughout their work day. Disinfection stations are often put up in high-traffic establishments, like malls and restaurants.
The office, however private, would benefit greatly from a disinfection station where employees can wash or sanitize their hands, check their temperature, and list their information for contact tracing. Disinfection mats are great for killing germs and viruses before employees enter the office, and providing ample sanitizing solutions encourage frequent disinfection.
3. Work with a lessened workforce
Some non-essential workers continue to work from home, but every business needs frontliners to manage onsite. There are some tasks that are better suited for onsite work, regardless of how well we adapt to a work from home set up.
Working with a lessened workforce means that some business operations will slow down in productivity as the company adjusts to having fewer employees in the office at a time. Many cities mandate requiring only a small percentage of regular workers to come into the office at any point in time.
However, working with fewer employees onsite does not mean that the business has to sacrifice their operations. The company will have to adjust their standard operating procedures to comply with the number of people working onsite, and adjust their working hours accordingly as well.
4. Shifting to a hybrid office set up
For the past year, we’ve been trying to set a balance between a WFH (work from home) set up, while some of our friends and coworkers may be working onsite or as frontline workers. Create a hybrid office set up where both onsite and offsite workers can work independently, while maintaining a cooperative work dynamic.
Many programs are available for download online, so you can work with your team regardless of where you are. Slack, Trello, and more are typically used by teams to ease the communication lines while working remotely. Many of these programs can easily be installed into company-owned computers, as well as personal computers for free, and they streamline tasks for better productivity flow.
5. Setting up standard protocol for the office
At some point, we’ll have to prepare for any infection that may leak into the office. Even with the strictest measures, and all the safety precautions that we take, one slip up can result in the spread of the virus around the office.
Talk with your supervisor on proper protocols that will be put in place in case of an emergency, especially when it comes to finding out that a coworker has tested positive with the virus. Before getting to that bridge, set standards on how to go about business operations, as well as quarantine measures in case of infection.
For businesses handling food and consumables, the standard protocol is to shut down operations for at least 2 weeks to let disinfection take place, and allow the virus to dissipate before allowing people into the office again. For other standard offices, the protocol is to hire a disinfection team to go over the area with a strong sanitizing solution to kill off the virus.
To keep your office safe during the pandemic, it is important to focus on hygiene, social distancing, and maintaining a clean environment. Implementing sanitation protocols such as regular disinfection of surfaces and providing hand sanitizer for employees is recommended. Wear a face covering, limit the number of people in any space and maintain separation between workers by at least 6 feet.
Yes, it is preferable to decrease the number of staff in the office and stagger work hours to reduce infection risk. Wherever possible, allow staff to work remotely.
The best practices for encouraging social distancing in the office include providing adequate space between workstations and limiting the number of people in any one space. Utilizing floor markers to promote physical distancing and closing off certain workstations to reduce employee contact are also recommended.
Cleaning protocols should include regular disinfection of commonly touched surfaces such as door handles, light switches, keyboards, and desks. Antibacterial wipes and sprays should be used to clean those surfaces and make sure to have hand sanitizer available for staff use.
Yes, it is recommended that all staff wear face masks while in the office.
Provide employees with access to soap and running water, as well as hand sanitizer in the office. Encourage employees to wash their hands regularly, particularly after coming into contact with any shared surfaces or equipment.
It is important to limit gatherings of people in common areas of the office such as the lobby or break rooms. If possible, set a maximum occupancy for these areas, enforce physical distancing and limit the duration of any gatherings.
It is not mandatory to have employee temperature checked but it is a recommended safety practice
The office should be regularly disinfected, particularly commonly-touched surfaces, and individual workstations should be cleaned after each employee use.
Yes, it is recommended that employees in the office be provided with protective equipment and PPE such as face masks, gloves, and eye protection.