According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, every part of office life is being re-examined in the era of Covid-19. Companies once spent millions of dollars retrofitting spaces to create rows of open desks, intimate conference rooms and elaborate collaborative areas. They are now having to re-think these designs and make changes. Many of these changes won’t go away until the virus does.
Health and safety were the top motives for sending employees home to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and health and safety will be the driving factors for employees’ return to the office. In the post COVID-19 workplace, we’ll all be more acutely aware of the hazards associated with the surfaces we touch and the people we interact with after this prolonged period of social distancing (Work Design Magazine).
So, what can you do to anticipate the needs of your employees as they return to work? National Office Furniture recently released a research summary called The Redefined Workplace. Here are some of their suggestions,as well as our own, on how make sure your office is healthy and safe for your employees to return.
Implement Building-Wide Cleaning Protocols
Make sure to encourage your employees to wash their hands and wipe down their desks with disinfectant wipes regularly. Reception areas and social/common areas should be cleaned and sanitized at regular intervals throughout the day. Provide hand sanitizer for employees and guests and discourage workers from using their coworker’s phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment when possible (OSHA).
You can also consider Anti-microbial chairs for your reception area. They feature healthcare grade vinyl that is treated with an antimicrobial additive that works to repel microbes. The antimicrobial chemicals are designed to be released over time so that the vinyl will offer a consistent level of protection for the life of the furniture.
How do you keep your employees 6 feet apart? According to the Wall Street Journal, many companies are designating certain hallways and stairwells as one-way. Another option is using arrows on the floor to encouraged people to walk a certain direction and only that direction, or in lanes around the office. This one-way traffic is the same approach that healthcare workers take in hospitals to help avoid the spread of pathogens (Cushman & Wakefield via Fast Company).
Some conference rooms will stay shut because they are too small to allow people to spread out. In person conference meetings can be limited in favor of Zoom meetings.
If your building doesn’t allow for desks to be 6’ apart you can install social distancing shields in between desks. These plexiglass dividers can be freestanding or desk mounted. McAleer’s sell a variety of desk shields including our exclusive Desk Defenders which start at only $79 and sit on any desk top surface. There are also many companies making dividers that integrate into your existing system, giving employees more protection than current open plan work spaces.
A Phased Return To The Office
Consider how employees will feel when they prepare to return to the office. Instead of mandating that everyone come back at once, consider offering the option for people to do it in waves. This may not only provide the necessary social distancing, but it would also allow employees a greater sense of control over their health (Gensler). You can also stagger the arrival times of employees to avoid people congregating in common areas.
If available, utilize touch-less technology. Many businesses already have automatic doors, hands-free faucets and soap and paper towel dispensers. If your business is able to install no touch options, now would be the time to consider them.
Improved Indoor Air Quality
Consider ways to improve air circulation, filtration and ventilation. Find out what steps your business can take that help filter and destroy bacteria and viruses from indoor environments. Adding UV lights to air handlers can help purify air and contribute to a safe and healthy indoor environment (Gensler).
From the office to the home and places between, McAleer’s is committed to helping businesses thrive. We’re actively finding products and solutions that support a safe work environment, wherever it happens. Visit our online catalog for more COVID-19 Support Products. Call, Chat or Email Us. Same Day Pickup or Next Day Delivery!