When COVID-19 hit the United States, businesses were asked to shut down. Restaurants had to close their doors to patrons. Offices remained empty as employees worked from home.
Although the virus is still around and spreading, as vaccines start to be rolled out, there is hope that things can go back to normal. Soon, people can walk into stores again. Employees can get out of their couches and go back to their desks.
But, before that happens, you need to prepare.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
The office has been empty for too long. During the absence of the staff, dust floated around and settled on surfaces. The chairs, the desks, and most especially the carpet need a thorough cleaning before employees come in and use them.
A few days before the office reopens, it would be a great idea to call a local commercial cleaning company. Allow the experts to scrub all the dirt that accumulated within the space while everyone is at home, socially-distancing to curb the spread of the virus.
The office has to be vacuumed, wiped, and sanitized to remove not just dust but also germs that may have remained when the country went into lockdown. Disease-causing pathogens may have been taking all this time to grow and spread, waiting to infect your employees.
Let the professionals do the work for a thorough cleaning.
Make Some Changes
Although many businesses have reopened as restrictions are eased, the virus is still around and spreading faster than it had last year. It is still necessary for employers to make changes that will ensure the health and safety of employees as they return to the workplace.
First, everyone must follow the minimum health standards such as wearing a mask, keeping at least six feet away from other people, and proper handwashing. Moreover, there must be changes around the office, too, that will minimize the risk of infection. The changes depend on your office’s unique needs, but there should also be enough space between desks/chairs. If possible and within budget, go contactless when clocking in in the morning and out by the end of the day. Many offices are also placing alcohol-based sanitizers at key areas within the workspace.
Even after COVID-19 has become a distant memory, there are still illnesses that can spread in the workplace. The flu, for example, kills thousands of Americans every year. And, like COVID-19, it spreads from person-to-person via droplets that may land on the mouth, eyes, or nose of another person. The flu can also cause infection by touching a contaminated surface.
Consider Continuing Work-from-Home Setup
The remote work setup has proven that many professional roles can be completed without going to an office. It is comfortable and convenient to work from home. People who experienced it said that they no longer want to go back to how things were before the pandemic.
It will be much safer to continue working from home. If not possible, allowing your employees to work remotely a few days a week is a good alternative. It will reduce the number of people within the room which further reduces the risk of transmission.
It is clear that ventilation plays a huge part in keeping a space, whether an office or a home, safe from viruses. When there is air coming in and out, droplets containing viruses that have been expelled through talking or coughing will be diluted to the point that they can no longer infect anyone who is exposed.
However, in places where the air is circulated indoors, the transmission of illnesses is possible. In some studies, viruses have been shown to float for a long time and travel great distances. As much as possible, keep the air flowing. Adjust the air conditioner to allow air to freely flow from outdoors to indoors. When the weather is nice enough, you should open the windows and doors, too, even for just a few minutes.
In addition, encourage everyone to have their own personal fans to prevent the indoor air from going stale. A fan will keep the indoor air moving.
Meetings can be a cause of infections when done traditionally. It is no longer necessary or fashionable to gather people within one room to discuss work-related matters.
Before you send an invitation for a meeting, consider if whatever you will say can be communicated clearly through emails. This will reduce close interactions between people.
If you have to meet, consider doing so in an outdoor setting. You can set up a meeting table in the office garden. If you do not have one, this is a good opportunity to do so. Outdoors, the chance of transmission is very low because there is fresh air that immediately disperses contaminated droplets. The sun also boosts immune function, preventing infections.
COVID-19 is drastically changing the way people work. From being tethered in the office, nowadays, most work from the comfort of their own home. When things go back to normal, expect these changes to endure.