10 Safety Steps To Prepare Your Office For A Post COVID-19 Phase
The world will remember these days, these struggles would not die unheard. These times would not go unmentioned and of all, the ones who survive will be the leaders of tomorrow.
While economies across the world are falling steep, there are some players holding the worth to their salt. Yet with the majority of projections pointing towards a major economic meltdown, and which may loom over us for multiple quarters, a clear sight ahead is something we all need.
We, at myHQ, have a bird’s eye view of the coworking world, and offices and workspaces in general, and wish to place our community at a better stance than others. So this is a shoutout to those who would play a key role in conserving the safety and well being of their employees and colleagues. And this is not just for the workplace health and safety of the owners and leaders, but a duty for the fellow coworkers, the budding entrepreneurs, the freebird freelancers and the space providers or landlords as well.
Even as we gradually proceed towards the end of a long phase of lockdown due the COVID-19 spread, and even while looking up to some relaxations put into play, we need to adhere to some extra precautionary measures. For only when the workplaces are safe from this invisible enemy, can we look up to an ergonomic growth of our industries.
While each of our team members works towards the growth of our economy, the ones in charge of operations should make sure of a number of things around. As a business owner, leader or space provider, we should do everything in our capacity to ensure workplace health and safety in a post-COVID-19 world.
Here are some safety precautions that every business owner should take for workplace health and safety:
1) Upgraded Cleaning & Sanitisation Standards
Before you reopen your office, get a deep cleaning done from experts to make sure that the workplace is 100% virus-free.
Since we don’t expect the risks to fade away instantly, it is extremely important to get your offices cleaned frequently with hospital-grade disinfectants.
Sanitizers offer another level of personal safety while containing the COVID-19 spread. Contamination is more probable through contact with common surfaces and hence regularly sanitising high-touch surfaces & common areas should be priority one. A simple yet highly efficient technique would go a long way in maintaining strict hygiene compliance thus leading to employee safety &well being.
2) Social Distancing
The best medicine to counter the COVID-19 spread is maintaining strict social distancing. All employees should maintain a distance of at least 6 feet at all times.
Seating arrangements should be made according to the same and proper warnings should be put at visible corners where people, unknowingly, can bump into each other or come in close contact.
3) Wear Masks & Protective Gears At All Times
Just as social distancing is, wearing masks at all times is the next thing you need to imbibe in your social behaviour. This should be a mandate for all employees and staff alike.
At home, while travelling or in the office, wearing masks would be mandatory at all times. This would not only save you from contracting the virus, but it would also help us all keep a tab on the spread all over. Even though the virus is nor communicable by air, wearing PPE reduces the chances of spread significantly.
4) Thermal Scanning At Entry
Adding another layer or tracing in the loop, thermal scanners should be available at all times on the entry to your office complex.
People showing temperatures more than usual, shouldn’t be allowed entry at first and should be kept a record of for future reference. Maintaining such a facility is crucial for workplace health and safety because it would ensure a pre-emptive precautionary approach for other employees.
5) Tips For Employees To Implement
Owners should make respiratory hygiene compulsive and mandatory for all employees. This includes keeping tissues handy and face masks on at all times.
It’s not for you but for everyone around that you keep up with these precautionary measures. People should be advised to keep indoors as much as possible and make sure that the employees keep a wash/sanitize hands and other contact surfaces near them.
Make provisions for sanitisers and wipes to be kept on all desks and limit the access to common areas.
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6) Intermittent Attendance By Employees
Keeping the head-count to be intermittent at all days should be followed. There are 2 ways of doing that: one dividing your workforce into 2 groups and asking each group to work on alternate days.
In the second approach, employees can be asked to come every day in shifts. Even with this scaled-down percentage, social distancing of about 6 ft should be practised.
Video conferences should be held instead of physical meetings and the premises should be sanitised on regular intervals to get rid of any contamination. Similar protocols should be put in place for office visitors.
7) Measures For Maintenance & Housekeeping Staff
The housekeeping staff which would be more of a frontline defence against the virus is at greater risk and should be offered a higher level of protection and gears to prevent the spread any further.
They should be provided with certified gloves and other preventive kits. They should also be advised and informed about the safe sanitization of surfaces leading to workplace health and safety. If needed, prepare a cleanliness daily checklist for the staff to follow.
They should also be encouraged to take up personal hygiene measures as well and should undergo proper thermal and medical screening on a regular basis.
8) Gaps in Lunch/Recess
One thing that needs to be articulated separately is keeping staggered lunch/recess breaks. During such times, the employees are prone to come in close contact and fear of contamination rises.
Instead, if the breaks or lunch sessions are staggered with a gap of 10-15 minutes in between, we would be able to maintain social distancing norms properly. During this time between breaks, the housekeeping staff can sanitize the area where people have food. Employees should also be discouraged to order outside food and should minimise food sharing.
9) Drills & Health Advisories
Proper drills and health advisories for employees should be organised by the authorities in charge.
Seminars on basic hygiene and other precautionary measures should be conducted to help the employees understand the requisites of this situation.
These measures are scientifically proven to help contain the spread any further. The focus should also be around maintaining social distance and safety once they are outside the workplace.
10) In-Office Isolation Zones For Emergencies
There would be emergency situations, inevitably, and handling which would become the next issue at hand. To stay prepared and a step ahead of the spread, all the workspaces should have a containment zone ready for those who show symptoms while in the office.
A contact-less drill should be practised for quarantining such people and which should be orchestrated by certified medical experts. Also, keep a list of contact details for nearest ambulance services, COVID-19 special hospitals and other medical assistance handy.
Some Other Steps To Be Taken
Apart from the 10 steps mentioned above, here are some additional things that should be kept in mind:
1) Ask Your Sick Employees To WFH
Ask your sick employees to work from home even if you come across slightest of symptoms. If the symptoms appear when the employee is in the office, make sure that your safely quarantine and isolate this individual from the rest of the team and allow these individuals to work from home until the condition improves.
2) Avoid Team Get-togethers
Gelling up with your employees and unwinding the day with a little fun is important, but it can be also done with social distancing and preventive measures being kept in mind. For one, avoid heading out for parties and get-togethers, instead, arrange for the same at your workplace.
Ask your employees to maintain distancing at such times and make sure the entire area is sanitized before and after such a congregation.
3) Enforce Strict Travel Restrictions
Employers should come up with stringent measures for those required to travel due to work. If not absolutely necessary, refrain from allowing any travel-oriented operations. If allowed, these employees should be screened properly for symptoms frequently.
Ask employees to use the Aarogya Setu App in order to identify and avoid areas in or nearby Red Zones for better protection against the spread. Those living in red zones should be asked to work from home under any given circumstance. Employees with recent travel history, due to personal or professional reasons, should be asked to work from home and in a self-quarantine like situation for 14 consecutive days at least.
Business owners and managers should also encourage people to travel via personal vehicles. If using cab services or public transport, extra safety precautions should be taken to maintain social distance and safety. Sanitise your hands before and after every trip.
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Long-Term Measures To Be Taken
If in case, the COVID-19 spread longs further than anticipated, there should be some long term changes needed in our workspaces. These measures would ensure an added layer of protection for employees and working staff altogether. Let’s shed some light on these workplace health and safety measures.
1) Increase The Overall Ventilation
Improving the cross ventilation of air would improve the hygiene of your workspace environment. Our workspaces usually have common air conditioners for the entire floor and buildings at times, which raises concerns of contamination to others if one individual is infected.
Making sure there’s no loop in the airflow and a good cross-ventilated environment is something that would help. This would break the chain of contamination to others if one of your employees comes up with symptoms. Get your office air-conditional filters cleaned regularly.
2) Allot Dedicated Parking Slots
Dedicated parking slots would ensure in containing surface contamination further. Allocating personalised parking for a long term would be beneficial in advanced stages of spread if we come across something as much.
3) Rearrange Common Areas
Common areas should be rearranged for more space and visibility. This would help in maintaining social distancing to further limits. Along with this, make sure that a floor map of seating arrangement is placed at the entrance so that the ones coming in have a clear idea about the location of other coworkers.
4) Invest In Touch-less Technology
Also, one should encourage the use of touch-free amenities such as double swinging push doors, motion sensor lights and other tech-enabled amenities that reduce human contact to almost zero. This would help prevent surface to surface spread of the virus to great extents.
Keeping these things in mind, it’s not just your employers to have a role to play, but it is a collective effort. From employees to clients and every single individual in the loop should put in efforts to counter this pandemic. As our government works up to integrating efforts, it’s our duty to put in everything we can to ensure workplace health and safety in the post coronavirus world.
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Q. What to do in case a large number of patients come up at my workplace?
A. For such instances, one must primarily take the isolation measures planned. Informing the authorities comes second and then a thorough contact tracing should be done for such individuals. Making sure that everyone in contact with these people are quarantined properly should be taken ahead and other measures suggested by the COVID-19 prevention bodies should be enforced.
Q. Do we need to hire an in house medical professional for such times?
A. No, there isn’t a need for medical professionals to be hired for offices. However, the employees, maintenance staff and others should be informed of basic medical safety procedures to be held during emergencies.
Q. Uptill when do we need to follow these restrictions?
A. Well, this depends on the progress of a vaccine being made. Once the part of vaccine generation is done and is circulated to most of our population, we can look forward to easing these restrictions. Before which, any such relaxation can be dangerous enough.
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