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August 20, 2020 Adrian Zee

How to prepare for the post-covid workplace

If your company allows employees to come back to the office, make sure to keep these measures in mind to prevent the virus from breaking out in your workplace.

As businesses affected by the covid virus start to reopen, you may be wondering whether it’s time to ask your employees to return to the office. Or you may be an employee looking to head back to the office instead of spending each and every day working from home. 

What was once seen as a perk, working from home has tired mane employees out. Working from an office may even sound like the new perk of 2020. However, the threat of covid still looms, with fears of a second wave hitting Canadian cities. That’s why if your office reopens, it can’t merely resume as it once operated. 

If your office is hoping to reopen now or in the near future, this article is for you. This provides business owners and employees with tips on how to return to their offices safely. 

Redesigning the workplace 

If health authorities have hammered anything into Canadian minds over the last few months, it’s to stay at least six feet apart and wear a mask. The requirement to stay six feet apart means your business will need to revamp any open office concepts. 

Your business should make certain desk spaces off-limits so that every employee’s workstation is at least six feet apart. If this means that the office won’t have enough desks, employees can rotate when they come into the office. In the case of rotating employees, make sure that sanitation wipes are available to disinfect the space. You can also erect or request management to erect plexiglass barriers between desks.

It’s also essential to restrict the use of common areas such as cafeterias and large meeting rooms. Although these were once areas for colleagues to socialize, the traffic that these areas receive could increase transmission risks. 

If you work in a large commercial building, the management of the building may redesign common areas. For example, there may be one-way lanes to promote social distancing, reduced elevator use, or mandatory mask-wearing. You should be mindful of these policies and do your best to comply with them. If you have issues, such as an inability to use stairwells, speak to your building management for alternatives to their covid policies. 

Communicating to employees

Any pandemic of this magnitude is stressful for many people. Management teams should be extra empathetic during this time. If there’s an option for employees to work from home, then that option should continue. Many leaders (especially of the ‘boomer’ generation) believe that working from home erodes communications between teams, but the health of employees should always be taken into account. 

The opportunity to work from the office is good for some individuals, but not everyone. Some employees may prefer to stay home five days a week if they care for elderly or sick family members. Being flexible and empathetic as employees return to the office is part of promoting goodwill. Without this goodwill, the business’ bottom line will ultimately suffer, as employees will likely provide less effort to their role and turnover will increase. 

Implementing other policies to prevent covid spread

Your business may also want to implement other safety policies, such as mandatory mask-wearing, cleaning protocols, and more.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health organizations have reiterated the effectiveness that wearing a mask has on stopping covid spread. Although it may not be comfortable, wearing a mask is critical to preventing coughs or sneezes from spreading disease. 

Lastly, your office should take better measures to clean any surfaces, high traffic areas, and areas that people frequently touch, such as door handles. Your office should also use cleaning supplies that prioritize killing bacteria instead of supplies that prioritize cost-efficiency or pleasant scents. 

Covid seems to be starting to let up, at least for the time being. As a result, businesses are returning to normal, and some employees are returning to the office. If your company allows employees to come back to the office, make sure to keep these measures in mind to prevent the virus from breaking out in your workplace. 

Adrian Zee

Adrian Zee is a freelance writer and a student at Osgoode Hall Law School. Previously, he studied management and writing at Western University and worked in the data & analytics industry. Adrian is also a part-time food writer and photographer at DailyHive/DishedTO.