Tips for Opening Your Office Safely During the Coronavirus OutbreakFEBRUARY 4, 2021| SpeedPro
The COVID-19 health crisis has forced many new challenges onto employers, one of which is determining how to bring employees back to the office without putting their health at risk. If you’re planning to reopen your office, we have some COVID-19 safety tips to help you facilitate social distancing in the office and enforce important health policies.
1. Inform Employees and Enforce New Protocols
By this point, your employees have likely heard some of the general guidelines on health and safety amidst the coronavirus pandemic from sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, it’s also likely that your employees are on different pages about the best ways to reopen the office. Based on guidance from health experts, you should determine the procedures you will need to make your office as safe a workplace as possible. This may include instating temperature checks, mandating masks or various other policies.
Whatever your policies are, you need to make sure your employees all understand these policies. Of course, getting buy-in from all your employees is ideal, but even if some people disagree with your approach, you want to make sure they understand the rules and agree to follow them. As you invite employees back to the office, provide training to educate them on your new policies.
Remember that it’s easy for people to slip into old habits, so make sure you provide coronavirus signage, verbal reminders, emails or whatever else it takes to keep health and safety procedures a central focus.
2. Modify Your Layout to Facilitate Social Distancing
One of the most important changes some offices will need to make is modifying their layout so employees can maintain their distance from one another. The CDC notes that employers may have to adjust workstations and other furniture to make their offices safer. Employers should consider:
- Spacing out employees: If employees’ workstations are close together, it’s time to make some modifications to create a 6 Feet Office. This may mean moving desks around or removing some seats. If you can’t accommodate all your workers in the office while maintaining enough distance between them, consider having a rotating schedule where, on any given day, some employees are working from home and some are working in the office.
- Installing dividers: Now is a great time to have cubicles, but many offices have adopted open office plans over the last few decades. If you have a benching system or another type of open office layout, consider installing partitions between employees. You can keep an open feel by using clear safety screens, or you can install more solid dividers to provide a barrier for both safety and privacy.
- Reworking communal areas: In reception areas, break rooms or other spaces where people tend to gather, move furniture around to encourage social distancing. This may mean stacking some chairs or placing signs on furniture that is “closed” to help with social distancing. For example, you could place small signs on chairs or place a sign on a table reminding workers to eat at their desks rather than in groups.
3. Adopt Stringent Hygiene Standards
One change nearly every office will have to make is boosting their cleaning and sanitizing procedures. An occasional deep clean isn’t enough when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Instead, employees or cleaning staff must wipe down surfaces frequently. Consider how many hands touch a doorknob or buttons on the copier over the course of a day. To maintain a hygienic environment:
- Know the products to use: You can use soap and water to clean surfaces, but you should always follow this up by using a disinfectant. Cleaning alone will not kill pathogens. Be sure the disinfectant you use is included in List N: Disinfectants for use against the coronavirus from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Make it convenient: Find ways to encourage hygienic practices while making these practices more convenient for employees. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends you provide tissues, cleaning supplies, disposable products, no-touch trash cans and hand sanitizer to promote personal hygiene. Consider placing hand sanitizing stations throughout your facility to help employees keep from transmitting germs.
- Clean the air: You should also do what you can to provide clean air for your employees. This may involve consulting with an HVAC professional to see if your system needs any upgrades. You may also want to place high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems throughout the office to help clean the air.
4. Post Signage Throughout the Office
Of all the office health and safety tips for the coronavirus, there’s one that’s especially critical: Post signs throughout your office. The fact is that people are forgetful, so telling them to social distance once during a training session or sharing a guide to proper handwashing once in an email won’t cut it. Signs provide reminders for your procedures and can help direct guests who visit your office. That’s why experts from the CDC and OSHA recommend posting these signs in your office. Some types of coronavirus signage include:
- Cleaning procedures: Instead of trusting employees will remember the cleaning procedures they’re supposed to follow, why not create some signage to serve as a daily reminder and guide? You could create a large freestanding banner, for example, and place it somewhere employees can easily see. Or you could create individual tabletop displays and place one on each desk.
- Handwashing guides: Hopefully, employees wash their hands after using the restroom, but they may not do so thoroughly enough. Post handwashing signs in restrooms to remind people to wash their hands, following the CDC’s five-step procedure, including 20 seconds of scrubbing. Window decals are a great option for this type of signage since you can easily apply them to mirrors right where people will be looking while they’re at the sink.
- Social distancing reminders: Social distancing signage can remind employees to stand 6 feet apart. Prioritize placing these signs in areas where people are apt to congregate or unintentionally be too close together. Some display types that can work for social distancing signs include floor decals, wall graphics and A-frames. You can also create elevator wraps to remind employees of new occupancy limits.
- Face mask notices: If you’re requiring face masks in your facility — whether it’s a mask on at all times policy or a requirement to wear a mask when you’re away from your desk — you need signs stating that policy. Face mask signage comes in various forms. Consider installing window graphics on your front door as well as indoor signage to make employees and guests aware of your mask policy.
- Temperature check protocols: If you’re checking employees’ temperatures as they arrive, install temperature check signage to help direct people where they need to go. You can also provide educational signs to inform people about your procedure. Digital signs are a great option for keeping your messaging fresh since you can update them regularly.
- Hand sanitizer stations: Instead of just setting bottles of hand sanitizer around, create custom hand sanitizer stations that are more eye-catching and also serve to brand your office space. Place at least one station at entrances and exits, and look for other locations where one of these stations may be helpful, such as in cafeterias or break rooms.
Custom Coronavirus Signs for Offices From SpeedPro
Whatever your signage needs, SpeedPro is your source for coronavirus signage that goes beyond the generic to bring your personalized messages and your branding to life. Our staff can help you produce a wide range of signage types, all using quality materials. To get started, find your nearest SpeedPro studio.