If you’re moving your employees back into the office, then it’s imperative that you prioritize safety. As we wait for a vaccine and the end of this dastardly pandemic, we all must do our part to limit the spread and help save lives. Office life can almost return to normal, as long as a few key guidelines are stringently followed. Here’s how to open up the workplace while keeping employees safely apart.
Rethink the Layout
In normal times, keeping employees close together can encourage collaboration and foment innovation. Unfortunately, these are not normal times. Think creatively about how you can maximize your office space to keep employees as far apart as possible. Normal concerts like aesthetics and symmetry need to take a back seat for the moment, as a hectic, disorderly layout might be necessary to help keep workers distanced.
Where distancing is not an option, physical barriers can help limit spread. Perspex is a great material because it is affordable and easy to acquire. Since it’s transparent, the office will also maintain a bit of an open feel. Employees can still share a smile or laugh through the barrier, but without spreading the virus.
To limit the potential for breakouts, it’s best to have as few people as possible in the office at any given time. One way to do this is by staggering shifts. If possible, you can even match each person’s schedule with their own personal preferences. Let the early birds come in at the crack of dawn, and encourage the night owls to hole up past dinnertime. This way, everybody’s happy (and a little bit safer).
Schedule Small Group Breaks
No matter how separated and divided the work stations are, infection will still become an issue if employees crowd together during breaks. Extended conversations around the water cooler or over lunch are perfect opportunities for the virus to spread. By scheduling staggered breaks, you eliminate the risk of clustering workers.
Discourage Physical Contact
Handshakes, hugs, and other physical greetings represent unnecessary risks. Post signage and enact guidelines to help people adjust to the new, distant ways of saying “hello.” It takes some getting used to, but eventually the new normal won’t seem so strange.
As businesses open their doors and welcome workers back to the office, it’s on managers and owners to keep their employees safe. Follow these guidelines to keep workers safely distanced in the office.
Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2