It's been 6 months and more, COVID-19 continues to impact, keeping us uncertain about its end. It’s the new normal that we have been learning to co-live with the virus, following the safety precautions brought forth by government and health institutions.
After a lockdown and work from home season of 3-4 months, organizations are now preparing for a safe return, calling back the staff to work from office. This phase makes it so crucial to effectively implement the safety measures, so you and your staff work in a risk-free environment.
Each organization will have its own unique processes and procedures at work, but one precaution that is critical to all organizations is Social distancing in the workplace.
As we all know that the Covid-19 virus spreads through social contact between individuals, implementing social distancing in workplaces is mandatory to reduce and avoid the spread of the virus and here are the five most important ways you can effectively practice social distancing in your workplace.
Remodel your Workspace
Remodeling your workspace to support social distancing is critical. Here are some thoughts on how you can remodel your workplace.
Entrance Points - Plan mandatory screening at all your workplace entrances.
Workstations and Desks - Keep a distance of 3-6 feet between each work station and desk
Shared Desks - Let only 3 - 4 people share a desk
Staggered Shifts - Plan staggered shifts and also a cleaning and disinfecting schedule between each shift
Meeting Rooms - Fix large rooms to organize your face to face meetings, so you can maintain distance between each other
Cleaning and Disinfecting - Have a cleaning and disinfecting policy in place to ensure consistent cleaning. Following are some of the ways you can make it effective -
Prepare a regular cleaning plan
Prepare an emergency cleaning plan
Keep enough stock of products used for cleaning
Assign a team to monitor the entire program
Personal Protective Equipment
Having an effective personal protective policy can keep your staff from being exposed to infection. Once your employees are in your workplace, equip them with gloves, masks, gowns, safety helmets, goggles, etc.
List out all your employees who interact with customers and are most vulnerable to infection to offer them the necessary PPE.
Ensure your inventory has enough PPE for your employees and visitors, inform your employees on how they should clean their PPE and use them consistently.
Discuss with your managers and colleagues on how you can control crowd and attendance in your workplace. Review whom you need in the office first and plan to bring back all your staff team by team, week by week.
Talk to your employees to know if they are all comfortable to get back to the workplace. Make sure you
probe into the health of their family members,
screen their health when they arrive at your workplace, and
learn about their recent travel history too.
Communicate your employees well in advance so they are prepared to get back to office.
Let all your meetings be virtual and plan your most critical live face-to-face meeting in large rooms so you can stay at a distance from each other.
You can also control the spread of infection by planning staggered shifts and limiting your visitors.
Public transport cannot be reliable as we do not know who might be the carriers of the virus. Thus, make sure your employees use their private vehicles or the ones provided by the organization when they come and leave.
Discuss with your staff to know their challenges with commuting and plan on how you can address them. Limit the shuttle capacity to few so it can reduce the spread of infection.
Breaks and lunch sessions
Make sure your people do not take breaks in groups. Supervise your employees' cafeteria and lunch visits so they follow social distancing.
Let a team monitor your employee breaks and lunch sessions to avoid close interactions, food sharing among your employees.
Think. Prepare. Act.
Times uncertain can make your return to workplace too risky. It involves a responsibility not just towards our own staff but our families and community.
Serious thought, coordination between the leaders and staff, effective preparation and planning can help you create a safe work environment where you and your people can operate not with fear but with trust.