Many experts believe that we’re finally entering into the post-peak phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this phase, there’s a possibility of recurrent events, however, we’re slowly but surely getting a handle on the widespread human infection we saw at the height of the pandemic. While the disease hasn’t simmered down to seasonal levels yet, we do see the light at the end of the tunnel. For businesses, this means that employees are finally able to return to the workplace, even if in-office work now looks different than it did before.
While we’re beginning to adjust to life after a global pandemic, it’s critical to consider how you’ll keep your office safe for both employees and visitors. What safety measures should you implement in your office to reduce or prevent the spread of illness? How can you support the mental and physical well-being of your staff as you welcome them back to the office?
In this post, we’ll share timely advice on which safety protocols to take, as recommended by the CDC.
Most experts agree that one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Vaccinations have been proven effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Wide-spread vaccinations have slowed the spread of the illness.
In the US, three out of every five people are fully vaccinated, and at least 80% of Americans have received at least one dose. These numbers are climbing every day, but there is still a sizable minority of individuals who have not received vaccinations. While vaccine mandates vary by state and industry, the CDC recommends that all organizations encourage their staff to get vaccinated.
What might this look like for your organization?
There are several ways to encourage vaccination in your workplace. For example:
- Hang up informational posters to explain the importance of vaccination and the dangers of not protecting one’s self from the spread of the virus
- Offer time off during the workday for your employees to get vaccinated or receive boosters
- Incentivize vaccinations by offering bonuses, such as cash awards, gift cards to local restaurants, and time off
- Provide non-punitive paid sick leave for employees who may be experiencing post-vaccination symptoms
- Set up a temporary vaccination clinic to make it easier for your employees to get vaccinated
Doing one or more of the above can lead to vaccine confidence. This may increase the percentage of employees in your office who are fully vaccinated and protected from COVID-19.What safety measures should you implement in your office to reduce or prevent the spread of illness? Click To Tweet
Continue to Wear Masks
If potential exposure to COVID-19 is high in your community, the CDC recommends the continued use of masks for all people aged 2 and over when indoors. This is regardless of vaccination status.
However, even if your community levels are low, your staff should wear masks if any of the following conditions are true:
- You are sick (whether you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or not)
- You are caring for someone who has COVID-19
- You are potentially interacting with someone who has COVID-19
- You are at an increased risk of severe illness
- You are living with or spending time with someone who is sick or has an increased risk of severe illness
While some may not like to wear masks, masks can slow the transmission of the virus.
Maintain Social Distancing
Social distancing is another way to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Although we’re now returning to in-person work, it’s still important to limit person-to-person contact. Maintaining physical distance is a great way to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people.
There are multiple ways you can continue to implement social distancing in your workplace, such as:
- Reducing the number of people you allow in your office at a time (lower your maximum occupancy by 50%)
- Implementing signage to indicate where visitors can stand while waiting in line to check-in or check out of your office
- Use a digital check-in kiosk to reduce person-to-person contact
- Arrange seats in your office to ensure there’s an adequate amount of distancing between people
- Go virtual with your team meetings to reduce unnecessary contact
Another way to ensure a healthy workplace is to encourage your employees to conduct self-checks every day before coming to work.
Ask them to check for the most common symptoms of COVID-19, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Runny Nose
- Sore Throat
- Nausea/ Vomiting
- Loss of taste
- Loss of smell
- Muscle aches
If any of the above symptoms develop, an individual should check their temperature. While an elevated temperature doesn’t always predict COVID-19 (according to one study, 44% of those hospitalized did not have an elevated temperature), the CDC recommends temperature checks as it can be indicative of a viral infection. However, do not take your temperature after taking a fever-reducing medication like acetaminophen or immediately after exercising.
Encourage sick employees to stay home and don’t penalize them for doing so. Penalizations can also include forcing your employee to submit a doctor’s note as an excuse for staying home. Many sick employees are reluctant to go to the doctor and will simply just come to work and spread their sickness amongst their colleagues. To prevent this, allow employees who don’t feel well to stay home or possibly work from home if they’re able.
It’s essential that you manage foot traffic in your office. This means having a plan for visitors from their arrival to their departure.
In an effort to reduce contact, use a digital receptionist. Many people are still uncomfortable with close in-person interactions. This is especially true for vendors, such as delivery people, who may interact with dozens of strangers each hour. You can use a visitor management system to minimize unnecessary contact without sacrificing workplace efficiency. Our visitor management system enables you to create a personalized check-in experience for all of your visitors, whether they’re meeting a member of your team or making a delivery.
Implement Sanitization Stations
Make it incredibly easy for your employees and visitors to stay safe from illness while in your office. Here are several ways you can implement office sanitation:
- Set up hand sanitizer stations throughout your office, and especially in public areas or meeting spots (such as the reception area and lobby, stairwell entrance, next to the elevators, and at all entrances and exits)
- Clean and disinfect public areas on a regular schedule, multiple times a day. This includes handles, doorknobs, light switches, tables, desks, phones, seats, sinks, faucets, toilets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and any other high touch surface
- Set up signs to remind employees to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.
Implement a Hybrid Schedule
Instead of opening your doors to all of your employees at once, consider implementing a hybrid schedule. In this work arrangement, some employees work in-office and others work from home and then they rotate. This can dramatically reduce how many people are in your office on any given day and will support your social distancing efforts.
Reintroduce Your Employees to the Workplace
More and more offices are re-opening to in-person staff. However, the world and the way that you do business have definitely changed in the last two years. Acknowledge those changes when you reintroduce your employees to your workplace. Meet with your employees when they return back to work and explain what changes you’ve implemented in your office. Set expectations for how your employees should interact in your workplace, including what social distancing policies they may need to follow.
When they’re on the clock, it’s your job to keep your workplace employees safe. Safety extends beyond physical threats of violence and hazardous work conditions. It’s also important to do what you can to prevent the spread of illness in your office. If you continue to implement the above safety procedures in 2022, you’ll be doing your part to end the spread of COVID-19.
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