We all have adapted to remote work and other changes to protect ourselves, our families, our employees and the society in general. The traditional call centers, including offices with cubicles looked old fashioned as the open office concept took hold. We debated the benefits and drawbacks of open concept at our office and then COVID-19 happened.
Companies are now thinking how to bring remote teams back into the office. This means companies have to re-configure the office space not from a design perspective but from a safety perspective. Each organization has to design and implement policies and procedures based on its office size, # of employees, schedule requirements, need to be in the office along with other factors. All these policies and procedures have to be designed with safety and well being of employees first.
The first step in re-organizing your office to bring remote teams back where they feel safe is to conduct an environment safety audit. You can visit governmental sites listed below to get information about the steps you need to take.
The attached link is an Excel to get you started on your office environment audit. This is a template which you can modify to fit your business needs.
According to CDC, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol for cleaning office computers, keyboards, remote controls etc. . The 70% alcohol-based disinfectants are also recommended by Public Health Agency of Canada.
The link below is a list of disinfectants that government has provided that work well when cleaning hard surfaces: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/disinfectants/covid-19/list.html
The usage of Personal Protection Equipment such as gloves, face masks, protective face shields should be used according to an organization’s health and safety needs and its own risk assessment. However, Employee Safety should be in the center of each decision you make.
We all know that physical distancing and staying 2-meter apart is now the standard which means that office floor plans have to be re-organized. Do we need to put directional signs on the floors so people don’t come in close proximity and move only in one direction?
Office Seating arrangement and working spaces have to be modified with physical barriers like Plexiglas, or high separation cubicles like the traditional call centers, with employees sitting 2 meters apart.
Meeting room usage, length of time for which meeting rooms can be booked or should the meeting rooms be assigned to individuals who still don’t feel comfortable about coming to the office. These are the questions that an organization or business owner has to answer to ensure employee safety.
All businesses cannot afford to install automatic doors and most often we are using door handles to open and close doors. From entrance doors to office doors and any commonly used surfaces now require us to think about safety. As an organization you have to implement safety processes and make changes to the physical infrastructure to reduce physical contact.
We don’t want our offices to look like hospitals and become intimidating. However, we need to display signage in the office that will communicate the social distancing, hand washing, sneezing etiquette to the employees.
Bringing remote teams back into the office requires clear communication to employees, vendors, customers, delivery personnel or any other person visiting the office. Information about the procedures to follow, whom to contact and where to find information regarding COVID-19 related policies and procedures is critical.
Where can employees find information about self protection, seating arrangement, cleaning supplies, list of people who are in the office on that specific day are all part of communication.
At PerfectQue, our team has been working remotely for the last two months and like all other companies we are implementing changes to ensure the safety of our employees.