Getting back to business is something we’ve all been thinking about, sometimes with excitement and sometimes with anxiety. It’s been a while since we’ve all felt a sense of normal, so it’s important not to go overboard with jumping right back into things. With businesses opening back up there are many precautions to take to avoid the unnecessary spread of germs and sickness. Office360° is here to be your resource for reopening with some tips on how to safely and successfully get back to business.
Set the Office up for Social Distancing
Chances are your office was never social-distancing friendly. If employees are constantly in close quarters to each other, redesigning or reworking your workplace is encouraged to help spread out employees. Today we see many open-concept offices, designed for collaboration and incorporating blended spaces to appeal to employees and support their well-being. A workspace designed for collaboration could face some issues when encouraged to practice social distancing. Some things that you might want to incorporate in your workspace to support social distancing are:
- 6-ft apart rule with signage in high-traffic areas
- Limit the number of people allowed in rooms (breakroom, bathroom, mailroom, copy room, etc.)
- Stagger lunch breaks to avoid gatherings in the breakroom and other areas of the office
- Encourage employees to eat at their personal workstation, outside, or in their car
- Rearrange any furniture in the office so no two people are forced to sit in close proximity to each other
- Hold meetings virtually (through Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, OneScreen Hype, or similar programs)
- Remind employees of handwashing, hand sanitizer and keeping common/personal areas clean
- Provide hand sanitizer to everyone in the office and make sure the bathrooms are stocked with proper cleaning supplies/soap
- Pause all personal contact (i.e. shaking hands, using other phones, desks or equipment)
Practice Protection and Prevention
Using personal protective equipment has become the new norm, so incorporating these into the work attire while things are getting back to normal should be promoted. When reopening your business, provide gloves and masks to employees to help ensure that everyone is properly protected and helps prevent the spread of unnecessary germs. Everyone should be reminded to clean or replace their protective wear regularly. Another method of prevention is setting up a screening station at the entrance of the office. Ask questions about an individual’s recent health status and consider a touchless infrared thermometer to ensure no employee has a fever before entering the facility. Limit the amount of traffic through the building by restricting outside visitors to enter.
Continue Remote Working
Many employees have been working from home now, which has taken a lot of adjusting. Although some may be eager to get back into the office as things begin reopening, if the work can be done from home there is no reason to rush it. Large numbers of people returning to the workplace pose a threat for spreading and contracting viruses. Taking time to get everyone back into the office is going to be key in making sure social distancing rules can be properly enforced. Once your office decides to bring everyone back in, begin by staggering the days that certain people work. This will reduce foot traffic through the office which will then decrease the amount of contact your employees have with each other.
Disinfect and Clean
What’s a more perfect time for some cleaning than spring? Cleaning the office is essential in ridding the space of germs and unwanted bacteria. Not only is it important to clean and organize before everyone can get back to business, but you will also need to disinfect and sanitize all surfaces, knobs, bathrooms, and any shared spaces. Making sure everything is disinfected ensures that everyone is returning to a safe and sanitized workspace as you begin reopening. When the employees are back to business, ensure the breakrooms and restrooms are being replenished frequently with soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and other sanitary items. Another thing to think about is reminders to your team about practicing personal hygiene, i.e. washing hands, disinfecting personal areas, getting rest and plenty of fluids during the day.
Maintain Clear Communication
When you plan on reopening, remember communicating with your employees is necessary to make sure everyone is on the same page. Although ways to communicate are limited, figuring out an appropriate channel to speak as a company is essential. With the change in workplace etiquette, it’s more important now than ever to be communicating social-distancing reminders, new protocols, cleaning guidelines, room capacity expectations, and more. Social distancing does not mean your employees should be left in the dark. Keep your employees up to date with the latest news within the company and this will keep their trust. Some ways you can communicate these reminders are with flyers, signage, whiteboards, video chatting, emails, or conference calls.
Rebuild Morale in the Office
Coming back to the office with new restrictions and rules can be overwhelming to employees, especially if they are now used to working from home. Making sure that you are doing things for your employees to make them feel special and appreciated can help them find peace in the new normal. Promoting achievements, discussing a positive future and when the time and regulations permit, team-building events can lift spirits.
Getting back to business will be adjustment just as leaving the office was. If we all work together to create a safe and healthy workplace, we can get back to normal sooner. These 6 tips will guide you in the right direction to a flawless reopening.