After roughly 3 months of mostly working from home, you, like many companies, may be searching for short-term fixes for your workplace during COVID-19 to help bring employees back through your doors. With no sign of when normal will return or what it will look like, making any drastic changes seems daunting. Taking precautionary, affordable steps to bring back employees may be the safest route. While some investment is necessary to transition employees back to the office without jeopardizing their health and mental wellbeing, there are plenty of options to do so economically.
Get All the Facts
If you’re currently leasing office space, yet hardly using it, speak to your landlord. As business owners, they have the same concerns about the impact of the coronavirus as you do. Ask if they have or will consider any modifications to your lease. As a small business owner, have you applied for a PPP loan? If you have and did not receive one, it may be worth trying again now that the initial rush to secure has passed and terms have been modified. A percentage of the PPP loan can assist with covering mortgage interest payments, rent and lease payments, and utilities.
Identify Short-Term Fixes for Your Workplace
Reviewing the CDC’s recommendations for preparing your office and your staff is a great first step. There are numerous solutions across as many areas depending on your operations, how your teams function and level of importance in-person meetings are.
Let’s start with the air quality in your office. Healthcare facilities have used advanced air quality and circulation methods for years, and science is showing the same help reduce the risk of spread in office environments in regards to COVID-19. But those solutions come at great expense. If you lease office space, inquire with your landlord or office manager to find out if they have any precautions in place. Try to confirm that air handlers and filters are properly maintained and working correctly. If you own your space and can adjust your own HVAC system, while it may cost more, utilizing more outdoor air than recycled has been proven more effective in reducing pathogens.
Making new habits of frequent hand sanitizing and sanitizing of surfaces is about the strongest measure of defense you can enforce as an employer. Provide your staff with plenty of posted reminders and supplies. Alleviate the chance of spreading any disease by purchasing multiples of items like printers, staplers and other essential, often-used office supplies. Provide spray bottles and rags/towels for employees to wipe down their desks, keyboards, chairs and other surfaces.
Be Super Heros, Wear a Mask
Even with so much controversy around the whole mask debate, it’s kind of like wearing a seatbelt… it’s just the right thing to do. Ask employees to don a mask when entering and walking through shared areas at least until they are in their own office or protected workstation environment (see station providers here.) Whether you require employees to provide their own masks or supply them yourself is something to consider. Especially depending on the type of work and needs they have. There are numerous vendors now offering custom masks with logos applied – they may be a nice “welcome back” gesture.
Proper Disposal of PPE and Cleaning Items
Provide employees and guests with access to plenty of waste receptacles. Vendors are now providing them with specific PPE graphics to help remind employees and guests to dispose of items in a safe way – what good are face masks and gloves if they’re left on someone’s desk or in the restroom, on the counter, right? Our friends at Margnusun group have some attractive options. See them here.
Divide and Separate
Modifying your workspace is another easy fix and one that we’re happy to help with. Even if you have a room full of workstations there are still simple solutions to maintaining social distancing within that space. The first line of defense is offering staggered workdays – so if a department typically has 8 team members, allow 4 to come in on alternating days, with the other 4 reporting on the alternate days. Add one of the many desk dividers or add higher partitions if your stations currently have low options installed. Reduce allowed occupancy in shared spaces like elevators, stairwells, and meeting rooms and clean those areas regularly.
Working remotely is still by far the safest route, but no matter how productive everyone is proving they can be, there are always certain circumstances where in-person situations cannot be avoided. Take a step back and consider measures that can be taken to make it safe for all parties involved. With the start of school approaching, consider how to best accommodate working parents, especially single moms and dads – it may be as simple as allowing additional time on deadlines or scheduling meetings that are more convenient for their double-duty schedules. Now is the time to pull together as we push forward in a safe, yet productive manner. Contact us for ideas and other short-term fixes for your workplace during COVID-19.