If you’ve been lucky enough to retain a job remotely throughout COVID-19, you’re probably wondering how the transition back into the office is going to go. Some offices have already reopened and are settling in. Here at HIPB2B, we are erring on the side of caution and waiting a little bit longer to head back to our cozy offices at 81 Miller.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent the last 3 months working at your kitchen table or on your couch. Maybe you have kids or pets who’ve been driving you nuts all workday long. It’s likely that communication has been an issue for you since you can’t sit at a conference table for meetings or walk down the hall to your coworker’s office.
The biggest transition most of us will face as we return to our offices, however, are the new policies and guidelines set in place for COVID-19. The workplace most of us were experiencing back in February will likely be very different in July. Safety will be everyone’s #1 priority, which will involve a lot of cleaning, disinfecting, and communication.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
At HIPB2B offices, we’ve spent this week cleaning and disinfecting our own office spaces. We have a cleaning and sanitizing plan in place for once we’re physically back full-time, including:
- Wearing of face masks in public areas
- Usage of hand sanitizer and overall proper hygiene practices
- Wiping down common surfaces that we come in contact with
- Resources such as hand sanitizer, hand soaps, disposable masks, non-latex gloves, and cleaning supplies are provided by HIPB2B to employees
- Packages delivered will be sanitized before being brought into the office
According to Agility PR:
- 56% say their company is increasing cleaning or sanitation efforts
- 54% are providing hand sanitizer for personal use
- 36% are offering more protective gear or resources
- 6% say their organization isn’t taking any protective measures.
The CDC has provided a detailed guide for cleaning and disinfecting your workspace:
- Use disposable gloves, gowns, a mask (like a cloth face covering) for cleaning and disinfection. Carefully remove and throw them away immediately after disinfection and trash disposal.
- Always clean before beginning disinfection. Cleaning with a detergent or soap and water solution removes particles that can carry risk of COVID-19 on surfaces. This reduces the viral load before disinfection begins, which helps the disinfectant to be more effective in killing the remaining virus.
- While there is a list of EPA-approved disinfectants, one easy-to-access solution is household bleach and water. The CDC recommends:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water. (Good for floors and larger surface cleaning)
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water. (Handy for spray bottle applications)
- If using disinfecting wipes (such as Clorox or Lysol wipes) remember that to properly disinfect, you should clean only one item at a time, using enough wipes to ensure the surface stays wet for 4 minutes.
- Remember to never mix cleaning products together.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, phone receivers and keypads, remotes, handles, touchscreens, desks, toilets, sinks, elevator and elevator buttons, etc).
- Clean and disinfect shared electronics and equipment, digital signage, and touch-screen kiosks.
Social Distancing at the Office
While out in public, most of us have been social distancing from strangers. While in the office, social distancing is crucial to spreading fewer germs and making the office an overall safer place to work.
According to Agility PR:
- 62 % say that their employers are encouraging social distancing
- 37% say their company is reducing the number of staff on-site at any given time
- 37% are canceling in-person meetings
In order to properly social (and physical) distance in a confined workplace, there are a few methods you can and should follow.
- Limit who comes into the office and keep visitors to a minimum or prohibit them altogether.
- Maintain virtual meetings while in the office. Avoid group lunches and other gatherings.
- Offer touchless entry into the office or provide a hand sanitizing station upon entry.
- Reimagine the layout of your office. You may have departments that are one big coworking space that will need to be partitioned or spaced out.
- Create markers denoting six feet distances for social distancing spacing in all common areas.
Communication and Engagement
Communication is key when working remotely but especially when it comes to returning to your workplace post-pandemic. Businesses and their employees must comply with all requirements and it’s important that we hold ourselves and others accountable.
At HIPB2B, we have a few communication practices in accordance with HR, including:
- Mandated CDC signage throughout our workplace, as well as state-mandated forms regarding proper hygiene and safety measures.
- Notifying HR should we be presented with symptoms of COVID-19.
- Anyone with a fever of higher than 100.4 will be required to remain home until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
- Should an employee contract the virus, HR will immediately notify local and state health departments.
- Certain businesses are requiring temperature-taking of all employees and visitors.
Overall, there are several guidelines, both by state and by business, to closely follow. Everyone has been adjusting and continues to adjust to the new way of life that has come in the post-COVID-19 world. It’s crucial to focus on the measures that keep yourself, your workplace, and your families healthy and well.
Here are some extra resources to make sure you’re fully prepared:
- Which COVID-19 guideline have you found to be the most difficult to comply with?
- What has been your experience with face masks thus far?