By: Christina Nguyen
The world is gradually reopening, which means you’ll be able to see your coworkers again in the office soon. However, this doesn’t mean the virus has gone away. With thousands of people in every state testing positive every day, it’s important that all businesses take proper sanitary precautions to prevent further spread.
Working in an office usually means you’ll be surrounded by other people for several hours a day, sharing a lot of the same amenities. You and your staff will need to be mindful and attentive of both your own actions and each other’s health. Here are some measures you can take to keep your workplace safe for your fellow employees.
1. Step up your cleaning rituals.
Even if viruses didn’t exist, you should still be sanitizing frequently-touched surfaces. Take some time to clean every few hours, as the coronavirus can live on surfaces for a few hours to a few days, depending on surface type and temperature. You should pay special attention to surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, microwaves, company vehicles, common room tables and chairs, countertops, faucets, and keyboards.
Your disinfectants should be EPA-approved
. If you run out, you can use 70% alcohol solutions or ⅓ cup bleach added to 1 gallon of water. For more details on properly disinfecting and cleaning your workplace, see the CDC’s official guidelines
Don’t forget that cleaning solutions generally take some time to kill all the germs, so don’t rush your cleaning! Let the solution sit on the surface for the recommended time before wiping it all off.
2. Implement social distancing and wear face masks
It’ll be hard to stay 6 feet apart inside an office, but it should still be done. If possible, move workspaces at least 6 feet apart.
Most activities can be performed from a safe distance, but sometimes you’ll need to collaborate. While it’s convenient to stand behind your coworker to look at their screen to work together, try to avoid this.
This means you shouldn’t suddenly let go of all your communication and project management software. Stick to Slack as much as you can, even if your coworker’s just a three-second walk away. Don’t have too many people occupying the common areas at a time -- have employees schedule lunches at different times. If a team meeting could be efficiently handled by email, make it an email.
All employees should be required to wear face masks. Since not everyone will remember to bring one every day, keep a box of disposable ones around just in case. Also keep multiple bottles of sanitizer for public use throughout the office and encourage employees to bring their own.
Your office should only allow essential visitors, which means your employees won’t be inviting their friends in for lunch. If the visitor is essential, try to keep as much of your interaction remote and online as possible. If they really have to come in, ensure that social distancing and mask wearing is implemented.
4. Listen and communicate with staff.
Keeping your workplace COVID-free is to benefit everyone, so they should have some input as well. If someone is in a position where they frequently come into close physical contact with others, such as a receptionist, consider implementing other measures for them beyond frequently sanitizing their workspace. Physical barriers and distancing markers (such as tape placed on the ground) might help.
If you have any employees that are hesitant to return, discuss with them whether it’s okay to have them stay home. Several companies including Twitter and Shopify are allowing many employees to permanently work from home
. Some employees might be immunocompromised and spending over 8 hours a day in a space with multiple others may be risky. Some may not think you have enough hand sanitizer around.
If any employees show difficulty complying with the new rules, be sure to talk with them. Figure out what’s keeping them back and help them adapt. Emphasize the personal safety of their fellow coworkers.
Keeping your workplace safe is a collective effort requiring everyone’s participation. Your company should ensure that all employees understand that the virus is still here. The steps above can be integrated into your company policy with employees being thoroughly notified and reminded.
Depending on the nature of your business and the behavior of your employees, every workplace will require different measures. Whatever it takes to keep the masks on and the physical contact at bay, it’s up to your organization to figure out together.
Do you have any suggestions businesses can take to safely reopen? Let us know in the comments below!
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