Tips For Re-Opening Your Office In The Midst Of A Pandemic
The world left in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis is one that has embraced the topic of safety in new and unprecedented ways. Case in point – office safety. As offices gradually open, this subject, which was once aligned with proper posture and earthquake drills, has now acquired an unnerving new dimension. While British Columbia continues to thankfully have low rates of infection and transmission, non-essential workers are being drawn back into professional spaces with a fresh set of fears.
As an active safety and first aid provider to clients across a broad range of industries, ProSafe First Aid wants to ensure that all of our clients practice the utmost caution when re-opening. While Occupational First Aid and Fall Protection certifications are designed to handle tangible physical problems, tackling the threat of an airborne illness can feel like an entirely new challenge. Fortunately, Worksafe BC has released a series of regulations that will help reduce infection rates, while also putting office workers at ease. These regulations can be found on their website. Here are some important recommendations that you should consider:
1. Distancing Starts In The Lunchroom: Shared spaces, such as dining areas, are potential hotbeds for all types of sicknesses, COVID included, to spread. As this is the case, consider either removing shared dining areas, such as large communal tables or draw separate areas with tape on the ground that respect the 2-meter distancing rule. Recommend local parks or outdoor spots where your employees can enjoy their lunch. Consider imposing a ‘dine-in’ rule, where the staff has to eat lunch at their desks or follow a structured break schedule.
2. Assign Equipment: While sharing office supplies has always stood as a neighborly staple of the business environment, it is best to advise your staff to avoid passing around pens, staplers, or any other pieces of equipment. In addition, communal devices such as photocopiers, staplers, or coffee machines, should be disinfected after every use. If you want to make things easier, consider putting together ‘kits’ for your team. These should carry all of their office essentials, with their names are written on them. To make things more lighthearted, consider customizing the individual kits by adding small gifts or treats. On a more positive note, you won’t have to worry about your colleagues stealing your favorite pens.
3. Check Your Doors: Door handles are breeding grounds for germs. These high-contact areas are often made of stainless steel, which can retain live bacteria for several days after initial transmission. Fortunately, there is an outstandingly simple solution to avoid any COVID related issues in these areas – door stops. Instruct your overnight cleaners, or earliest on-site staff, to don gloves and ensure that all doors within your office are held open as needed. If your office has an elevator, make sure you assign staff to regularly disinfect the buttons.
4. Take Advantage Of Technology: Returning to the office doesn’t necessarily mean that you should cancel your Zoom subscription. While it is nice to be able to interact with your colleagues in person, meetings and other group functions open the doors to potential transmission. As that is the case, continue to hold digital meetings, and take advantage of the plethora of chat and instant messaging applications out there. If your budget permits, consider replacing your manual door handles with touchless fob systems. Technology can be used in creative ways too – for example, some offices have used low-cost lasers to help delegate safe zones that respect social distancing.
These measures, along with the general malaise that corresponds with Covid-19, can unfortunately create a potent combination that will damage your staff’s morale as they return to work. Because of this, the fifth, and most important step, is to show your employees that you care. Make the return to the office as fun and lighthearted as possible, given the circumstances. Try to have one-on-ones with your employees (from a safe distance), and make sure they are mentally prepared to get back to their desk. If possible, promote work-from-home options, and consider implementing this into regular workflows. Free lunches, online games, and outdoor team activities will all go a long way when it comes to boosting morale.
ProSafe First Aid wishes everyone a safe re-opening, we will get through this together. If you have any questions regarding our programs, or how to keep your workers safe, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The ProSafe Team