A majority of U.S. businesses switched to a remote work model in the first and second quarter thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether the infection rates are subsiding or not, many states are lifting restrictions, and some workers are heading back to the office.
When it’s time for your staff to return to a traditional working model, some things will have to change. Here is how you can put office safety first as you make this transition.
Assessing Your Workplace
Before you give the “all clear” and call employees back into the office, assess your workplace on several levels. First, how safe is your workplace without any changes? Can employees work and social distance at the same time?
Another thing you might wish to consider is whether it makes sense to bring all of your employees back into the office, or just some of them. Overhead is one factor to look at as are employee satisfaction and productivity levels.
Communications and Training
Once employees come back into the office, it’s vital that employers maintain the same level of communication and training that they had while supporting a virtual work environment. There should be clear guidelines in place for social distancing, housekeeping, and the handling of visitors to ensure the ongoing health and safety of employees and the public. If additional training is required to implement new protocols, this should be a priority.
Office Safety Protocols
Creating and enforcing safety protocols in the office is vital to slowing the spread of the virus. In addition to limiting group sizes and social distancing, employers should consider testing guidelines and rules relative to the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the office. Further, there should be strict guidelines in place for disinfecting surfaces. Employees can also continue to leverage technology, such as Zoom, for virtual meetings with clients and internal teams.
If your business doesn’t have formal protocols for visitors, you may wish to control access to your office with locked doors. Have hand sanitizer and disposable face masks available for visitors. Also, consider placing plexiglass guards at check-in areas and removing items from the reception area that encourage touching, such as pens and magazines.
A lot of your adjustments will likely need to be made in the areas where people sit to do their work. You will need to start with your existing office floor plan and then make any changes necessary to account for six feet of social distancing between staff. In addition to the distance, some offices are erecting shields and higher panels between workstations.
Employees should have assigned seating whenever possible to minimize the risk of virus transmission. And personal items should be packed away for now so that thorough nightly cleaning can take place.
Many states have recommended no more than ten people gathering at one time. If you have large conference rooms, consider re-purposing some of that space for your additional workstation needs.
If you have public spaces, such as break rooms, it’s a good idea to make some changes and create some guidelines. Post signs about available hours and maximum capacity for the space. It might be time to eliminate the communal water dispenser and office coffee maker for the time being. Further, limit any food offerings to single-serving grab-and-go items that employees can take back to their workstations.
Whether your business plans to expand, downsize, or relocate over the coming months, you need the right facility to meet your needs. At Caldwell Commercial, we specialize in matching the needs of our clients with some of the best properties in the Charleston, SC area.
Contact us today to discuss your options with one of our commercial realtors or property managers.