Re-thinking the office and clean desk policy after COVID-19
As businesses slowly start to resume operations around the world, rules and regulations are still required to limit the transmission of COVID-19. After all, the virus hasn’t gone anywhere – and will probably stick around for quite a bit longer, at least until a vaccine is found.
Social distancing is still encouraged all around the world, and while it’s easy enough to remain at least six feet away from the person walking in front of you, it is often tough to implement these measures in an office environment. Luckily for you, we’ve done all the research on how to redesign your office in a manner that reduces the risk of your employees contracting COVID-19.
In this guide, we’ll go over several tips and tricks for you to consider as your employees start coming back to work.
#1: Keep your workspaces clean
Your office may have a daily or weekly cleaning schedule – but it’s time to take it up a notch and clean your workspaces more often and follow a Clean Desk Policy. Your office should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized at the end of each workday to reduce the risk of the coronavirus. Additionally, you should supply all your employees with the materials they need to sanitize their desks regularly. Remind them to sanitize their computer screens, keyboards and phones in compliance with the clean desk policy as these are hotbeds for the virus and other germs. Our top pick is the Moshi TeraGlove Screen Cleaner Kit Wipes & Spray Bottle with a microfiber cloth. Simple use 70% isopropyl alcohol and wipe all your surfaces down!
These cleanings need to be tracked to confirm compliance, so consider setting up an online system such as a Google Form for your cleaning staff or even employees to check in with each time they sanitize the workspace. You can also use a physical sign-off sheet for your cleaning staff to check in with after they’ve cleaned the office each day.
#2: Limit the number of people in your office
You may have to do quite a bit of rearranging in the office to be compliant with social distancing measures. Desks should ideally be 2 meters or 6 feet apart, but at least one metre, to limit the transmission of the coronavirus. This will likely limit your office’s capacity, so it may be worth reviewing your employees to see who can work from home so that only the most essential employees come into the office. To be safe, ensure there is at least 10 square meters or 100 square feet of office space per person with 50% for the desk space and 50% for communal areas. Remote work should still be allowed and encouraged to curb the spread of this virus.
Alternatively, you can stagger your employees’ shifts so that everyone has a chance to come into the office if they wish to do so – although you should check with them to understand their preferred schedules. One way to organize this is via an online sign-up system, where the available timeslots are listed, and people can sign up on a first-come first-serve basis. To ensure your office isn’t over capacity, have your employees sign in and out each day – this can easily be done with FLYDESK’s upcoming Business Solution that will help track employee check-ins and workspace occupancy. Plus, your employees will likely appreciate the opportunity of a flexible work arrangement!
Social distancing will be the hardest to achieve in meeting rooms. However, it is a necessity, and you will likely have to place a cap on how many people can be in the meeting room at once so that chairs can be placed six feet apart. For each meeting, only the most essential employees should be in the meeting room and the rest should be advised to dial in via Zoom, Skype or any other audio/video conferencing system your company uses.
#3: Improve social distancing in the office
Desk dividers are another way to curb the spread of the virus. Although open-plan layouts are no longer a good idea, you don’t necessarily have to revert to the cubicles of past offices. Simply use clear plastic dividers!
Ensure your employees are aware that social distancing doesn’t end at the workplace – it may help to put up signs that remind them to stay at least six feet apart in the office, even in the common areas. You can also place markings on the floors of the workspaces, lifts, corridors, etc, so people are clear on what six feet apart actually means.
Encourage your employees to walk clockwise around the office – this is a technique many hospitals have now adopted. It creates a one-way flow and thereby reduces the risk of transmission as you won’t be walking past one another.
Of course, working from home is the best way to socially distance. It may be hard to track your employees’ work schedules when they are working from home though, so stay tuned for FLYDESK’s upcoming Remote Team Solution that will solve this issue for you!
#4: Move to a flex office
In the current pandemic, flexible workspaces are the ideal option as they allow you to stay home when there are risks of catching or transmitting the virus, and coming to the office only when you need to, thereby saving costs and time. If you are in a coworking or flexible office space, do remind your employees to carefully follow all of the above steps as they will be in close proximity to many more people. Regardless, coworking spaces will be held to high cleaning standards to ensure the safety of all their clients so rest assured, you will be in good hands.
If you need help finding the perfect flex office or coworking space, check out FLYDESK’s lists of premium flexible workspaces!
#5: Remind your employees to step up their hygiene game
One of the best ways to protect yourself against the virus is to wash your hands regularly – so put little reminders up all around the office and especially in the bathrooms. Be sure to stock up on hand soap so they can wash their hands properly and get rid of any germs they may have picked up.
For bonus points, put up pictures of the proper method of handwashing beside all the sinks in your office. Make sure the image highlights how to scrub between your fingers (including your thumb!), under your nails, and between your wrists. Ensure there are sufficient paper towels for your employees to dry their hands – while cotton towels are better for the environment, they are also a great environment for the virus to thrive in. You can opt for biodegradable paper towels to be more eco-friendly.
You should also make hand sanitizer accessible throughout the workplace and remind people to use it regularly – especially after touching items in common areas. We like the Grown Alchemist’s Hydra-Hand Sanitizer as it contains hyaluronan and antioxidants to keep your hands hydrated and soft all day long. If you want to limit the risk even further, invest in a UV sanitizer to disinfect germs that live on your phone’s surface that you constantly touch or on other devices like your mouse or earbuds that you regularly use during your work day. We recommend this UV Sanitizer model from CASETiFY that will do the job just right.
Office layouts and practices as we know them will have to be re-imagined, at least until COVID-19 dies down, there’s no two ways about it. However, if you clean your workspace and office regularly, wash your hands and follow social distancing etiquette appropriately, your employees will soon be able to come in for work safely.
If you’re interested in learning more about remote and/or flexible work arrangements, contact us at FLYDESK and we’ll help you correctly implement them in your business.