Is your workplace preparing to reopen? Before you dive back into business as usual, understand that COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 is still a public health threat and that all businesses and individuals must continue to do their part to prevent the spread of this virus. If you want to keep yourself, your employees, and your customers/guests safe and healthy, you’ll have to be strategic and cautious in your approach to reopening. Here are 10 crucial items to include in your office reopening checklist.
News regarding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, and the virus continues to impact different regions and communities to varying degrees. As such, it’s important to pay close attention to the most recent developments regarding the pandemic on the national, state, and local levels. This is a lot of information to take in, so prioritize your focus towards local reopening rules and recommendations. Doing so will help you and your employees return to work safely in accordance with your community’s specific challenges.
Due to the nature of COVID-19 and its method of transmission (primarily via close contact with an infected person’s respiratory droplets), certain types of facilities and occupations pose a greater risk of infection than others. Small, densely populated offices, for instance, are relatively risky, especially if employees are regularly in close contact and share surfaces and objects. This risk increases if someone in the workplace may have been infected with COVID-19. Therefore, you must conduct a thorough facility health risk assessment prior to reopening. This assessment includes tasks such as locating high-touch surfaces, high-risk areas (i.e. enclosed, populated spaces), checking the facility’s ventilation systems, and more. If applicable, your disinfection services may be able to help you conduct this assessment and come up with solutions for mitigating potential exposure.
This pandemic has revealed to everyone the importance of maintaining a stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) (i.e. gloves, masks, foot coverings, etc.), EPA-registered disinfectants, and cleaning supplies. It will be important to regularly use these items for the foreseeable future, and there may be a second and even third wave of this virus down the road, so do your best to maintain a supply of these items, enough for all employees to use when required. Your disinfecting cleaning services may be able to help you stock up, especially now as the supply chain gradually catches up to the demand.
Your employees, like you, are probably eager to return to work. But before you let everyone back in the office at once, take the time to screen each and every person. If any employee displays symptoms, however minor, such as an increased temperature, fever, fatigue, respiratory problems, etc., make sure they remain home and/or seek medical attention before returning. Conduct these screenings on a regular basis to ensure maximum safety of all employees.
Prior to reopening, reach out to your people with a highly-detailed list of guidelines, rules, and required behaviors for returning to work (either via email, video conference, online document, etc.). Make sure they know tha handshaking, hugging, and other forms of direct contact are temporarily off-limits; reinforce proper handwashing protocols; discourage item sharing; encourage employees to clean and disinfect their personal workstations before and after use; and more. The more thorough you are, the better.
If possible, adjust the layout of your office to help keep employees at least six feet apart and not directly facing one another. You may also want to rope off certain parts of the office to direct traffic in a single direction.
While COVID-19 primarily spreads via respiratory droplets, individuals can still get infected by touching their faces if their hands are contaminated. This is why proper hand hygiene is so important for preventing the spread of this virus. Of course, it isn’t always convenient to find a sink with soap and water during the day, so setting up several hand sanitizing stations around the office can help employees keep their hands sanitary at all times.
As we all adjust to a “new normal,” it can be difficult to retain important information regarding social distancing, handwashing, mask-wearing, etc. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to remind everyone in the office of these matters by posting signs and posters around the workplace with key information. The CDC has several informative printable resources on their site for businesses to use.
Your reopening checklist should include plans for limiting the number of employees allowed inside at a given time. Some regions in the U.S. require that offices only contain 10 workers at once. But even if these rules don’t apply and/or they’re lifted, you might find it difficult to return to normal capacity after rearranging your floorplan. If so, continue allowing remote work (if possible).
Another way to limit occupancy without laying people off is to adjust workers’ hours and break standard operations up into different shifts. This may be more or less of a challenge for different businesses, but, if manageable, this is a great way to keep employees physically separated without sacrificing productivity.
Sure, it may seem tedious, but be sure to check off all of these items before you reopen your office. After all, the health and safety of your people are paramount to your business’ continued success, and we’re all in this together. If you need help checking any of these items off your list, The Budd Group can help. Our disinfecting and cleaning services for offices are tailor-made for each client, and we can also help you adjust your operations in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines.
For more information regarding COVID-19 and recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection from the CDC, click here.
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