COVID-19 is likely to be with us for months to come. Because business can't be put on hold forever, companies must begin to think about how to return to their office spaces in a safe manner. Following these tips can help you create and implement a reopening plan that is good for your business and for your employees.
1. Take a Fresh Look at Traffic Flow
Social distancing is proven to hinder the spread of the coronavirus. As you plan your return to the office, consider how traffic currently flows through your office. Identify areas in the office where employees are likely to come within 6 feet of one another. You may find that encouraging a clockwise flow of traffic throughout the office or creating one-way hallways will allow employees to spread out more easily. Investing in signage and floor markers can help your team follow the safest foot traffic patterns possible.
2. Rethink Your Open Floor Plan
Open floor plans need to be revamped before employees return to the office. You may find that you need to remove desks to keep employees more than 6 feet apart at their work stations. Installing soft architecture like Plexiglass barriers can also help to decrease the spread of coronavirus.
3. Revamp Your Scheduling
Many businesses will find it difficult to maintain social distancing standards when all employees are in the office. In these cases, you may want to stagger employee start times or have your team split their time between the office and teleworking.
4. Understand ADA Limitations
ADA guidelines have been revised to empower employers to monitor their employees for COVID-19 systems. Under the latest guidelines, employers are permitted to conduct temperature checks and to survey employees about potential symptoms. It is important that you familiarize yourself with your company's rights and limitations. Having an attorney review your policies can help to avoid potential issues down the road.
5. Keep Messaging Clear and Simple
Returning to the workplace is bound to be stressful for your team, and the last thing you want to do is compound the pressure by inundating them with countless emails and memos regarding issues like mandatory PPE guidelines or social distancing requirements. Create one simple, easy-to-follow policy and communicate it through a single email. Signage can be posted in the office for quick reference as well.
6. Make It Easy for Employees to Take Care of Themselves
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, it is vital that you make it easy for employers to care for themselves in the workplace. Hand-washing and sanitizing stations can be deployed throughout the office to encourage good hygiene. It's also important that supervisors and managers respond to requests for sick time due to concerns about COVID-19 symptoms with respect and empathy.
7. Prioritize Sanitation
A clean, sanitary work environment is always important but is truly crucial in the age of COVID-19. Some employers are opting to have janitorial crews work during the day for light cleaning and then conduct deeper cleans at night. You may also want to add cleaning to employee procedures. For example, you might instruct workers to clean the buttons on the copy machine before and after use with disinfecting wipes.
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