Returning to Work: How to Behave Responsibly During a Novel Pandemic with Conflicting Information

The past few months have been characterized by concern and confusion as the world continues to wrangle with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. While doctors, scientists, and medical researchers have been hard at work trying to understand this virus, its mechanisms, and the best ways to combat it, there is still much to learn. These gaps in knowledge have resulted in contradictory statements from public officials and medical experts. At the beginning of this pandemic, for instance, citizens were told that mask-wearing was ineffective against COVID-19 -- not long after, though, this advice was reversed, and now it is being asked that everyone wear a mask when in public.

This is just one example of conflicting information that we’ve all had to contend with. Now, as some regions begin to reopen, many employers and workers are still unsure about how to approach this return to work. So, what should you do? Let’s go over some steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you as the world gradually gets back on track.

Maintain Awareness of Nearby Cases

While it’s difficult to gauge the accuracy of some information related to COVID-19, it’s important to at least stay up to date on local developments, namely new cases in your area, and, of course, your workplace. The invisible and often asymptomatic nature of this virus combined with a lack of available testing can make this tracing challenging, but if and when a new case is confirmed near you, you should know about it. This knowledge will help inform the immediate measures you take, such as temporarily closing off certain areas of your workplace, encouraging remote work, sending people home who might not feel well, etc.

Continue Social Distancing When Possible

At the very least, social distancing seems to have proven effective at “flattening the curve” (reducing the rate of spread), so it’s wise to continue keeping your distance (at least six feet apart) from coworkers as much as possible. To aid in these efforts, you might consider rearranging your office space to open it up, posting reminders around the workplace, and reducing the number and/or capacity of meetings and gatherings. And if your business can sustain remote work/telecommuting for a little while longer, continue allowing this option.

Wear a Mask When Social Distancing is Difficult

Of course, social distancing might be less feasible for certain workplaces, such as those that require close quarters, regular collaboration, etc. In these instances, you and coworkers should wear masks, covering your noses and mouths. Doing so is meant to reduce the outward spread of airborne particles that may contain COVID-19.

Keep Up Good Hand Hygiene

When in doubt, get back to the basics. Keeping your hands clean goes a long way toward reducing the risk of infection. In fact, soap can explode the outer layer of the COVID-19 virus, effectively killing it. So, actively encourage proper hygiene and handwashing at your workplace. All workers should follow the CDC handwashing guidelines, which states the importance of washing with soap and warm, clean water for at least 20 seconds.

Uphold and Improve Good Cleaning and Disinfection Practices

COVID-19 seems most likely to spread in enclosed areas such as homes and commercial buildings. As such, disinfecting high-touch surfaces should be a priority in all workplaces. If possible, hire professional disinfecting services to at least prepare your workplace for reopening. Working with reliable disinfection services will give you, your workers, and your customers peace of mind when inside. If you can’t afford to outsource your disinfection practices, purchase EPA-registered disinfectants and pay close attention to their instructions and dwell times (the time it takes for the disinfectant to kill microorganisms). Additionally, educate employees on proper disinfection practices and encourage everyone to clean and disinfect their personal workspaces on a regular basis.

Remain Calm

It’s not easy to stay calm during a global pandemic, but panicking won’t make things better. While there’s no telling how much longer these strange times will go on, we can all do our part as individuals to keep ourselves and those around us safe and healthy. The Budd Group is here to help businesses in all industries resume their operations as safely as possible via our customizable disinfecting cleaning services.

For more information regarding COVID-19 and recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection from the CDC, click here.

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