The coronavirus pandemic has seen many businesses worldwide send their workers home. Most employees went from a predictable nine-to-five in the office, to an all-out work from home setup, somehow finding the time to homeschool the kids and keep the house clean. The light at the end of the tunnel is that this is only temporary – in a post-coronavirus world, offices will reopen, and when they do, the chances are that hygiene will be everyone’s number one priority.
Small changes go a long way
There’s never a bad time to make adjustments to your workplace. Finding a window of opportunity to update your business equipment is an amazing opportunity to make a more efficient, slick and comfortable office environment. But when it comes to hygiene, there are easy swaps you can make, to increase workplace safety.
The most important factor in hygiene is office wear. The objects people have on or near them all day will be the most likely to be holding onto germs. Most employees in a larger business or corporate building will wear a lanyard, for example. Touching these through the course of the day is unavoidable – and materials like cotton and leather can hold onto a multitude of bacteria! An easy alternative is not to ditch these essentials altogether, but to provide alternatives which are made from silicone. Silicone is easy to clean with antibacterial spray, and can be kept free of germs with minimal effort.
Of course, office wear isn’t the only change that can be made for a safer work environment. Depending on the space available and the number of employees your business has, there’s so much to be done to increase social distancing, while keeping a collaborative feel in the office. Increasing the distance between workers’ desks and encouraging mask-wearing as a standard practice are both easy alterations to make!
Making everyone feel safe
Making safety adjustments to your office is not only practical, but can make your employees feel secure at work. Many workers might feel unsure or worried about coming back into the office, for fear of becoming ill, or passing the virus to their families at home. Business owners can help with this. Instead of pushing back against workers’ concerns, being a source of comfort to your employees is the way forward. Making these hygienic changes to your environment is a way of saying, ‘We are here for you.’ Not only will this encourage a friendly start to the office re-opening, but the chances are that a workforce who feel safe are likely to be more productive, too.
Ensuring everyone’s up to date with safety can start even before the office re-opens. Regular updates about the changes you’re making to the office will satisfy your employees’ concerns, and is a super helpful, simple way of getting everyone on side. Creative emails with open-ended phrases such as, ‘Our door is always open,’ make people feel included. These subtle changes cost nothing and can go a long way in supporting your colleagues in your steps towards re-opening the office.
Once your space re-opens, collaboration is of the utmost importance. Adjusting to new ways of working after a pandemic is always going to be a little tricky. Encouraging a team effort towards germ-busting your surroundings is a fun, free way to settle back into office life.
Have your team split into pairs and create presentations or activities for team building exercises that include social distancing and hygienic practices. For example, coming up with a new way to “shake hands”, such as tapping elbows or feet, will no doubt bring laughs and good fun to this new world. Instead of asking everyone to simply go back to normal, embracing the new normal will put your business at the forefront of office progression.
Working from home has brought about new ways to socialise, using video chat instead of face-to-face interaction. Many workplaces have started a weekly quiz or book/film clubs for their employees to increase socialisation and combat loneliness. Once the office re-opens, these fun quarantine activities don’t have to become a thing of the past. Keeping these social events (while encouraging social distancing, of course) can aid re-adjustment to working life.
In this daunting time, it’s easy to be overcome with worry about what the future holds for your business. With these simple, cost-effective steps to a more hygienic office, the re-opening of your space doesn’t have to be scary, but instead can be as seamless and safe as possible.