For many business owners and managers, making the office COVID-safe required some quick thinking and a touch of ingenuity. And although many did this thinking that the measures would be merely temporary, it looks as if the new socially distanced society will be sticking with us for a while yet, so it’s a good idea to give COVID safety measures in the office some serious thought and careful implementation.
At HandStations, we’ve noticed that there is still a lot of confusion that exists around making offices COVID-safe. So, in this blog post, we’re going to answer some of the most common questions we hear from business owners and office managers when it comes to introducing social distancing in the workplace and making them COVID-compliant overall.
1. Do I need to provide hand sanitiser?
There’s nothing in the law that says you must provide your employees and other office users with personal protective equipment such as hand sanitiser. That being said, it’s probably a good to make sure that you do.
Not only does providing hand sanitiser show your employees that you care about their health and wellbeing, it helps you do your bit to fight back against COVID-19 and save lives. Your employees are also far more likely to be comfortable returning to the office knowing that there are measures in place to protect them. Furthermore, the last thing you want is to be shamed on social media for not having the very basics covered when you’re trying to re-open the office and get things moving again.
With plenty of affordable hand sanitisers, automatic hand sanitiser dispensers, and other office-friendly products available online, there’s really no reason for not providing them to your workforce.
2. Is hot desking still possible? What about shared workspaces?
Prior to the pandemic, many offices had started adapting to two popular alternatives to traditional office-based working, “hot desking” and “flexi-working”. Hot desking is where multiple employees use a single physical workstation during different time periods. For example, an employee using a given desk on Monday won’t necessarily be using it on Friday. In contrast, flexi-working is where specific groups take turns working in the office.
As for whether these are still possible, the answer is that it depends.
If you’re able to give each of your employees their own workspace that only they use, that’s the ideal scenario. It’s even better if employees sit together in teams to avoid unnecessary contact with one another. However, depending on the office setup this may not be possible and make hotdesking and flexi-working difficult to avoid.
If your office environment can’t function without some elements of hotdesking or flexi-working, you need to ensure you’re strictly enforcing cleanliness and hygiene. All employees should thoroughly clean their workstations when they’re finished, and those coming to use them for the first time should give them a once-over too. That way, the risk of transmission is mitigated.
3. Is it a good idea to install screens between employees?
Plexi-glass screens have begun popping up everywhere, and that’s because they’re a good solution where it’s not possible to maintain a physical distance, such as in conference rooms or when paying for goods in a shop. With screens installed, employees can sit nearer to one another without being exposed to the potential for transmission.
It’s a good idea to only install these where they’re necessary, however. In a hot-desking environment where people sit next to and across from different people every day? Yes. In a conference room where space is limited? Yes. Between the permanently assigned desks of team members who work with each other daily? Not so much.
As a general rule, look to install screens where it’s not possible for employees who don’t work as part of the same team to socially distance from one another.
4. How can I enforce social distancing in shared spaces?
This is a difficult one and it’s not something you can be in full control of; your employees need to be willing to respect the general social distancing rule. And although most will, there are some who will either choose not to, or forget about it entirely.
To discourage those with a more blasé attitude to the coronavirus from not keeping their distance, introduce and strictly enforce a social distancing policy. This will usually be enough to make all employees respect it. It will also encourage other employees to be vocal and remind those in breach of the policy.
It’s also a good idea to install visible reminders that social distancing measures are in place and being enforced. The classic tape marks on the floor, spaced 1.5 to 2 metres apart, is the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to do this. This visual representation will also mean that people are less likely to forget that social distancing measures are in place.
For full social distancing, limit shared spaces such as meeting rooms, kitchens, and supply stores, etc., to a specified number of people at any one time.
If you’re an office manager looking for hand hygiene products to COVID-proof your workspace, visit our online store.