Post-COVID – The Office and Workplace of the Future
As offices around the country begin re-opening, it seems the work-from-home era may finally be coming to a close for many. If you are one of the employees who are returning to work after being away for months, you will likely see some changes implemented at your office. Hand sanitizer stations or a perspex sneeze guard by the reception are just a few of the many additions in office spaces.
As lockdown restrictions are lifted, many are unsure about what the future holds. However, office owners still have an obligation to ensure their employees are kept safe from the virus. They can achieve this through a combination of safety practices and the addition of special protective equipment from office refurbishment contractors.
Employers should acknowledge that COVID still poses a threat to their employees and operations. The risk is higher at workplaces that require physical interactions between co-workers and/or customers. However, as research shows, the virus can survive on different surfaces. Which may create many challenges for office owners. In order to keep workers safe from direct and indirect transmission of the coronavirus, here are some suggestions that might help:
Social distancing for the office
The practice of social distancing has played a key role in reducing the spread of COVID. For this reason, employers should encourage their workers to continue maintaining social distancing measures as they slowly integrate back into the office. In some offices, it may be that desks are too close to maintain the distance properly.
Therefore, it might be worth investing some time in rearranging to keep employees safe and keep them at least 1 meter away.
In addition to this, workstations, where employees sit face to face with each other, will also need to be rearranged. Instead of having desks facing each other, rotate them so that each employee is not directly facing another individual when they are working. This will reduce the likelihood of COVID being directly transmitted between co-workers.
In order to make social distancing easier for everyone, employers may ask fewer employees to come into the office on a given day. This may require some staff members to work from home or remotely and come in on a dedicated schedule to ensure social distancing measures can be followed. This should be effective at reducing contact between co-workers, as the number of staff visiting the premises on any given day will be limited.
Remote collaboration tools
Many employers and employees became acquainted with remote collaboration tools back when the pandemic lockdown first went into effect. Collaboration software applications have enabled workers to carry out their duties without coming into direct contact with their co-workers.
As offices reopen, such tools will continue being used in various ways. A group of employees working on the same project may decide to split into smaller groups and collaborate with each other using online spreadsheets and document creation software such as Google Docs.
Similarly, co-workers can use screen-sharing features on apps such as Zoom to discuss and troubleshoot problems with IT and other departments without meeting them in-person. The fact that so many people are now familiar with these software applications should make the remote-collaboration process far easier.
Face masks and gloves have proven to be invaluable when it comes to slowing down the virus’ spread.
In addition to providing their employees with these items as per government requirements, it is recommended that employers also set up hand sanitizer stations at different points of the office. These can be especially important at entry/exit points as they will allow people to enter the premises to disinfect their hands.
Office owners can also set up social distancing stickers that remind employees to maintain a distance of at least one meter from one another. Special social distancing stickers can be placed on the ground to illustrate the minimum distance workers need to maintain to stay safe.
Many workplaces have begun setting up protective screens between worker desks. A sneeze guard is a clear glass panel that can act as a barrier against COVID. These can be used to create artificial partitions between desks and seats.
This arrangement can be especially useful for offices with limited space, where desks can’t be spread out and workers have to sit within close proximity to each other.
These sneeze guards can also be set up at reception desks to protect receptionists and security personnel who come into contact with people from outside regularly. These barriers are effective at shielding people from germs and bacteria transmitted via sneezes and coughs.
If you are interested in setting up sneeze guards at your workplace, you should get in touch with office refurbishment contractors in your area.
As mentioned earlier, the COVID virus can survive on different surfaces for a limited amount of time. Experts are not sure how many people have contracted the virus by touching infected items and objects so far, but they do recommend disinfecting frequently used surfaces regularly.
Once offices reopen, employers will need to perform disinfections on a regular basis. This can include disinfecting floors, desks, door handles, lunchroom tables and other surfaces employees come into contact with regularly.
Working at offices after COVID
As you can see, employers and employees will need to get used to some changes in the wake of COVID. Business owners can make this transition easier by purchasing protective equipment from reputable office refurbishment contractors.