Many employers and employees are likely to have reservations and feel slightly anxious about returning to the workplace, whereas others may be desperate to make a return to normal working life. However you and your employees feel about the situation, your office must maintain hygiene standards in order to welcome your team back safely. Here's how to work towards creating a Covid-secure workspace:
1. Create hygiene stations
One of the most important messages from the government and scientists throughout this pandemic has been the importance of hygiene. This should be made as simple and accessible as possible for your employees. Saving them from having to walk through the building to find handwash is a good place to start. Make sure there are plenty of signs reminding staff and visitors to wash their hands, maintain a good supply of handwash at sinks, and stock plenty of antibacterial handwash on places like desks and hygiene stations throughout the office.
2. Space out desks
As long as the one-metre rule remains in place, you may have to rethink the layout of your office. Instead of having colleagues sit side-by-side and opposite each other, consider leaving every other desk free. This will help keep employees safely distanced and help to avoid transmission if someone coughs or sneezes at their desk. The more space you can keep between desks, the more effective your office will be at preventing infection.
3. Use PPE shields
PPE desk shields are a great alternative if you don’t have the number of desks you need to allow employees to spread out. A Perspex sneeze or cough guard, like those you may see in the food service industry, placed between desks can create a barrier between your employees and stop any droplets being passed between desks.
4. Ensure daily cleaning takes place
Most offices will have a cleaner who comes in daily, but this hasn’t always meant a thorough daily wipe down of surfaces. Providing antibacterial spray and wipes for employees to use on their desks at the beginning and/or end of the working day can help everyone play their part in keeping the office safe.
5. Rotate your teams
Many SMEs may have enough staff to be able to rotate those coming into the office. To do this, you can split your staff into teams, changing them over on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Doing this helps minimize the number of employees coming into contact with each other, whilst also allowing employees to start gradually getting back to normal working life.
6. Building trust amongst staff
Many SMEs have felt the harsh effects of Covid-19 on their finances, so getting back to a somewhat normal routine might feel like the most important thing right now. It’s important to remember that this is still an unpredictable and uncertain time, and that mood is likely to be mirrored by your employees.
One of the most vital steps right now for SMEs is to build trust amongst staff. They must know that their health and safety comes above all else. Job security will be another factor in their minds, but in a situation as unsettling as a pandemic, health must be the overriding priority. Remember these key things when returning to the office:
- Communicate clearly with staff: Try to understand what more you can do to make them feel comfortable in the office and help you get the best from them.
- Prioritize hygiene: Your employees will want to be welcomed back into a safe and clean office, and they’ll want to see this remain. If standards slip after a few weeks, they’re likely to feel much less secure in their working environment.
- Put safety first: We’re all hoping that returning to the office is the first step towards normal life resuming. Focusing on business is important but leave employees in no doubt that their safety comes first.
We’re all dealing with a situation we’ve never seen before. The last time employees were in the office was shortly before the government ordered those that could work from home to do so – something that was unthinkable six months ago. Since then, events around the world are only likely to have added to employee anxieties. Being prepared and making your office as safe as possible for this return is the best way to manage those fears and get on the road to normality.
About the Author
Mark Wiggins is a content writer at Viking Direct - one of the leading office supply and stationery store companies in the world, selling the biggest brands and the most sought-after products in over 11 countries. Further to this, they have a team of in-house business experts who are focused on writing content aimed towards staff engagement and motivation, helping business leaders get the best from their teams.