While we can no longer truly define “normal” for the workplace, it is possible to return your employees to their physical workstations with the proper safety precautions, cleaning, and attention to social distancing. Social distancing at work requires a commitment from management and staff to adapt to this new “normal” and to reconsider the daily activities we all took for granted prior to the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
One of the most important ways to ensure employee compliance with social distancing and other safety protocols is to write your policies down and distribute them to your entire staff. This includes developing safety documents, providing training to your employees (including role-play or video training if necessary), and placing important decals, posters, and signage around your workplace to remind your employees what behaviors are expected such as handwashing frequency, floor markings for standing distances and the location of sanitation supplies.
Proper social distancing at work requires employees and customers to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another at all times. Accomplishing this important mandate often necessitates new practices such as:
• Reduce office staffing and capacity, limiting the number of people permitted in the office at any one time. This can be accommodated by rotating or staggering teams into the office on certain days versus working remotely.
• Remove some of the desks or workstations from your office environment and assign locations for employees to work throughout the day.
• Consider plexiglass barriers to further protect public-facing employees or to better divide workspaces between employees when greater physical distance is not possible.
Simple additions to your workplace, such as directional signage, can help control traffic in and out of busy conference rooms or route visitors through less crowded areas.
Conduct Health Screenings on Employees and Visitors
If it is not possible to reduce the number of visitors to your workplace, be sure to invest in a contactless thermometer in order to perform temperature checks at the start of each workday and whenever visitors arrive. Inquire with each visitor if they’ve come in contact with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19 or have traveled to affected areas in recent weeks. Clear, written policies in line with local authorities and mandates will help manage employee expectations and answer questions that emerge.
A new PPE policy will help employees feel protected and mitigate any early concerns. Workplaces should plan ahead to provide equipment such as gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer to employees throughout the work shift. Additional items such as handwashing stations, shoe covers, and anti-bacterial wipes are also effective and reducing the spread of germs and further protecting your workforce.
Your workplace can be a safe location for your employees to return to productivity and for your customers to return to service. Simple efforts, including handwashing stations, rearranged seating, signage, directional decals, and floor markings, can lead to social distancing success.