August 7, 2020

Reopening Office? Make sure you go through our ‘back to work’ tips first

Experience has it that Resuming Operations is often more tiresome and tedious as compared to Starting Afresh. We present quick tips and tricks for you to consider while reopening your Office / Co Working Space / Enterprise so as to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for your employees.

Reopening Office? Make sure you go through our ‘back to work’ tips first

As the previous decade transcends into a new one, here we are, having embarked upon this dark and unexpected exodus some nine months ago, when the news first brought this Wuhan Virus Pandemic to light. It has been a trying journey for sure when spoken of in the least of terms.

“Some 650 years after the passing of Black Death, the Reaper rides across the skies at night, once again.”
Black and White sketch of grim reaper driving a vintage car
Times have changed and so has the reaper; he doesn't ride a horse anymore.

However, as has been the case with most trying situations humanity or lets say existence itself, in its pretty much justifiable urge to persist, has been through . . .

"this too shall pass" engraved on sand
This too shall pass

And there will be a new beginning. Within no time at all, you will find yourself absorbed into the confinements of your usual life, ONCE AGAIN.

In no time whatsoever, your employees will be back. Your office would be a bevy of bustling professionals once again as the screens spring back to life at the behest of their keyboards marking their presence with the distinct chatter of keys.

time lapse photo of group of people walking on the stairs
Bustling Office

You would definitely want to watch as the coffee dispenser gossips, the beeping fax machines, the conference room discussions and metallic whispers of cooling machines would go on to stake their fair share of claim, once again.

But let's keep in mind, pandemics such as this have the capability of continuing beyond our expectation and perception from them. This is evident from the recent resurgence of Wuhan Virus in Beijing, after China claimed to have dealt with the virus by the end of February this year.

Keeping all that in mind, here are a few safety tips you, as an enterprise owner would do good to heed while resuming regular office based operations:

Routine Cleaning of Frequented Spots

Frequented office areas such as washrooms, conference rooms, canteens, common lobbies, etc, compose the most visited spots by much of the office staff and are most vulnerable from the infectivity point of view.

person in blue gloves holding white textile and surface disinfectant
Cleaning frequented surfaces with sanitizer

Within these areas too, certain surfaces such as the basins, faucets, door handles, lift controls, stair railings, table tops, sofa armrests etc, happen to be points inviting maximum contact.

You must ensure they are regularly cleaned and disinfected (at least three-four times a day) with a special emphasis on above mentioned points of maximum contact which must be cleaned every 1-2 hours. Steps should be taken to make sure that soaps, toiletries and hand-washing gels are available in ample supply.

“A clear balance between human-object interaction and work feasibility needs to be struck.”

Social Distancing

In order to mitigate the risk posed by a revival propagation of infection, the workspaces MUST Operate with not more than 66% of their capacity despite your capability and willingness to accommodate more people. This is to make sure that social distancing is maintained and there is at least a space of one person between two consecutive people.

man in black t-shirt and blue shorts sitting on brown wooden pole during daytime

Additionally, in case something goes wrong and your office does become a flashpoint, the number of individuals affected would be lesser and the situation would be more controllable.

Sanitizers and Screen Wipes

Make sure alcohol based hand sanitizers are available at all common spots and are accessible by everyone. Regular and proper hand sanitization is the key to defeating viral infections. The staff must be instructed and educated with regard to their proper use and deployment.

hands holding a screen wipe napkin
Pre Sanitized Screen Wipes

Additionally, screen wipes for wiping smartphones/tablets/other touchscreen gadgets can be made available to staff for added safety.

Use of Biometric Sensors

Although the use of Biometric Sensors is HIGHLY DISCOURAGED in situations such as this, if in case you want to keep them deployed, make sure they are properly cleaned after every use. Designate a staff member for the purpose maybe.

Digital Fingerprint Scan in Full HD
Fingerprint Scanner

Biometric devices invite more touches as compared to common surfaces and therefore are a contagious spot for spread of infection. Your workspace can effectively replace the practice with that of WiFi based attendance.

WiFi based attendance is a contact free method of marking presence, where a particular employee’s first sign in and last sign out (from the office network) for any particular day, serve as the basis for attendance.

There is the pen paper method too, but in that case you need to take a lot of care to wipe clean the pen after every usage and yet the safety cannot be guaranteed as the paper can still very much serve as a medium for contamination.

Sanitization Drives

Run sanitization drives at least once everyday after the office time gets over. Try and make sure the entire perimeter gets sanitized in addition to the main spaces within and adjoined to the office building that witness a considerable footfall.

Man sanitizing the planet earth in digitally created image
Sanitizing the planet, a representational image

Symptoms Scan

Instead of depending upon your employees/staff coming forward and revealing their discomfort, take active measures to scan them for symptoms indicative of Wuhan Virus.

Make sure they go through compulsory and routine temperature checks every day and that the staff members conducting the checks have proper knowledge of the procedures and regular checks are conducted for them too. It would also be highly advisable to keep the staff responsible for checks on a rotation.

woman being scanned by a security person with a digital thermometer
Scanning for symptoms

If you have even a figment of doubt, take effective timely measures to actively segregate them by relieving them of duties/asking them to work from home, till their health gets restored back to normal.

Educating

Take care that the discourse of established facts and precautions regarding Wuhan Virus flows freely without any hesitation between you and your employees. As a responsible employer you can put up posters displaying tips and measures for employees to read and follow. Tips on

  • Washing and Sanitizing Hands
  • Maintaining Social Distance and Hygiene
  • Identifying Infection
  • Sneezing and Coughing Etiquettes
  • Boosting Immunity
  • Preventing Stigmatization
  • Self Quarantine

Are critical to ensuring a healthy workplace atmosphere, apart from coming in especially handy in times of emergency.

Postponing Get Togethers and Meetings

Encourage your departments to avoid meetings as much as possible. In case they are urgent, try conducting them over Video Calls/Conferences all the while involving only the important people to prevent unnecessary violation of social distancing.

man standing in front of people sitting beside table with laptop computers
Office Staff Meeting

Avoid get-togethers such as company parties, all hands meets, etc. till the situation has settled down further.

Conclusion

So once more, just to emphasize the importance,

“Pandemics such as this, stretch well beyond their mandate.”

At the end of the day it is up to us, whether we patch the small gaps now or whether we want to deal with GAPING HOLES later. It is the responsibility of everyone to make sure the precautions are followed and established procedures are obeyed, but being a leader puts additional responsibility upon the shoulders of those who find themselves at the helm.

Following these steps is of course going to compromise your profits, but being a seasoned business leader, I'm sure you would be more interested in securing long term gains. Isn't it? Thanks for joining us here, please feel free to share your thoughts regarding the same.

Cheers and happy reading!