One of the directives many business owners implemented because of the lockdown and quarantine policies brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic is shifting to remote work for employees. While we all hope that life would go back to regular programming soon, the future is still unclear. Moreover, it might take time before everyone could resume to the normal before the outbreak happened.
For now, people and businesses can adapt to the new normal—the post-COVID-19 normal—where social distancing rules and other health and safety guidelines must be in place. In the office, implementing these rules aims to ensure a safer working place for your employees, customers or clients, and visitors.
Let's look at some of the ways you can get your workplace and employees ready for a return after the pandemic.
Preparing the office
1. Implement physical distancing rules
As part of the “new normal,” make sure that workstations and seats maintain a 6-foot distance. Welcome your employees with this strict rule for their safety. If you need to get rid of unnecessary furniture pieces and decor to create more space, do so.
Moreover, consider installing signages, posters, and visual cues that remind everyone to maintain a safe distance. For instance, you can put up signs that remind them to stick to the right-hand side when walking down the corridors, not walk side by side, always wear their protective gear, and sanitize their desks from time to time.
2. Reduce contact points
From the office entrance to the pantry, think about all the things that your employees commonly touch: elevator buttons, door handles, light switches, refrigerators, copier machines, etc. To avoid virus transmission, minimize these touchpoints in your workplace.
For instance, you can consider shifting from key locks or biometric scanners to keycards. You can also use motion lights switches in common areas, including bathrooms.
3. Reform lunch breaks
If possible, encourage your returning employees to bring their own packed lunch when coming to work instead of dining out. If you have an on-site cafeteria, limit the cafeteria's capacity for dining in or modify their operation if possible. For instance, they can take orders and deliver them to the room departments. This way, you can ensure that no employees will bend or break the social distancing rules.
4. Sanitation and disinfection
As an employer, it is your responsibility to make sure that your employees come into a safe work environment. The novel coronavirus spreads by touching surfaces where droplets or residue from the cough of an infected person may rest.
Make wipes and cleaning products accessible to all your employees, so they can clean their desks prior to and upon completing their workday. Do also schedule regular sanitation and disinfection services. If necessary, put up signs that remind employees to sanitize and disinfect their workstations frequently.
5. Establish a decontamination lounge
Gone are the days where you greet visitors with a refreshing beverage the moment they step into your office. In the post-COVID world, decontamination and sanitation come first when welcoming guests.
To adhere to minimum health standards, do temperature checks, spritz their hands with alcohol, and require visitors to wear face masks before entering the premises. If you have the budget, you can place a small area in your reception/decontamination lounge for handwashing.
Preparing the Workforce
6. Place essential supplies and tools in every area
To help stop the spread of the virus, provide your employees with cleaning and safety supplies, including alcohol or hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, hand soap, gloves, face masks, and face shields. Moreover, limit foot traffic and unnecessary contact between workers by placing office supplies in every main area or workstation.
It is also crucial to remind your employees that wearing protective equipment does not eliminate the need for proper physical distancing. Encourage them to sanitize their own workstations, including telephones and keyboards.
7. Enforce limited capacity rules
With your newly rearranged office space, it may not be possible for all your employees to come to work. One solution to this is to offer a staggered work schedule.
For example, one department can work in the office on Mondays and Tuesdays, while another department on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Alternatively, one group will work between 7 a.m. and 12nn, while another will work between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Determine which people among your departments are needed in the office. You can offer your employees the option to come to the office or stick with telecommuting if they still feel uneasy about going out. As always, you can use communication tools for work to keep a tab on projects and tasks and make collaboration and communication easier.
8. Employ a health protocol officer
You can assign your security personnel to become a health protocol officer until the whole virus threat blows over. Your health protocol office will be in charge of checking everyone's temperature and in making sure that everyone is following the safety protocols (i.e., wearing masks and social distancing).
Wrapping it up
Working in the post-COVID-19 world means making specific considerations and weighing your decisions for the safety of your employees and guests. This ensures that your business operates effectively despite the challenges. When your employees see your initiative and efforts in preparing a safer workplace, they will feel assured to come in and trust your company more.
About the Author
Regina del Rosario is from Booth and Partners. She has a solid background in conducting interviews with multiple candidates to identify the one with the most potential. She has hired over 100 applicants for positions in dozens of industries and campaigns, at levels ranging from interns to upper-level management.