8 Sep 2020, 19:07

How to stay safe when your office reopens

As businesses are navigating their way through a new way of working that has completely broken the old way of working, we have to talk more openly with each other to learn this new order. This includes more focus on staying virus-free while indoors.

Many businesses have been looking at how working from home might remain as their new normal, but for a large number of companies, this just isn't going to be a viable way ahead. Maybe this is due to lengthy rental agreements that have been in place, and they will continue paying for premises for a few more years. Or there is a degree of hands-on working, face to face meeting with clients, manufacturing, logistic, where Zoom cannot meet the requirement over the long term.

So even though there are plans in place to hopefully prevent the second and third waves of the pandemic sending us all back into isolation, hygiene has been one thing that has been on the tip of everyone's tongues. It's been at the forefront of their minds since March, and more so as we get lockdown fatigue, just wanting to see our workmates, clients, and suppliers on a physical basis, not only on Zoom.

Whichever of these is your situation; we have all been working hard in the background to be able to set up new distancing programmes. This might include in the use of plastic dividers, additional bins which might consist of the need for clinical waste, and the all too ubiquitous use of masks, gloves and even more tissues, wipes and sanitisers.

Additional Cleaning

It is therefore crucially important that you don't just look at the additional cleaning teams, or even if you can remain with your current level of cleaning, as only a necessary evil. In the past six months, these teams have been thrust into the forefront of business operations, calling them key-workers, specialists in maintaining exemplary levels of hygiene in your workplaces. We are no longer thinking that we can get away with reducing a carpet clean here, or a desk wipe there.

These once thought to be mundane tasks are now considered as potentially life-saving operations. The duty of care on managers and business owners today is to prevent their staff from being caught up in this pandemic. Your choice of cleaning services company is no longer just one of those things you need to empty your bins and replace your toilet rolls. They are vital and the living heart-beat of your business.

What You Can Do

We are all far too familiar with the message of keeping safe. There are, of course, many simple things we can do such as keeping away from those who appear to be sick, although in the real world where travel and office space often makes this almost impossible. We can continue to wash our hands, wear face coverings, and regularly disinfect regular touchpoints.

As we start thinking towards the Autumn and Winter seasons, where viruses can be more prevalent, our focus on the air we breathe has become the very forefront of our thinking.

Ventilated air

It might seem like a crazy idea but having open windows can make a lot of difference. Windows on the bus might make the travel a bit colder, but imagine a virus, gently floating around a bus, looking for someone to harm. They are in the perfect environment to breed. With a window open, there is more chance to allow cleaner air in and so reduce the spread. You don't want to breathe everyone else's stale air!

In the office, it might be a different matter. Air conditioning often means windows must stay shut so that it can operate correctly. Plus, you don't want to be working in a cold office with your jacket still on, gloves on (how hard is it to type with woolly mits?)

Office Environments Are Tricky

Take these five simple tests when you arrive at work, they might make your life safer.

  • You walk into the main office. The air feels stale or stuffy. It could be that the air-conditioning is not working well, or maybe in need of a good cleaning. Avoid as much as you can, and certainly address it with your office manager or facilities manager.
  • What air-conditioning do you have? Some are simple wall systems, or even fans, that simply blow the air around. The air is circulating, for sure, but if there are viruses in that air? Just remember the bus!  
  • Ask about virus filters on your ventilation system. At least then if your system is one of those that recycle the air, you know there it is likely to be cleaner when it is pumped out than when it took it in.
  • Drafts can be a strange bed-fellow. While they introduce good clean air, make sure that it doesn't waft over someone who could be a potential virus-spreader! That once lovely, fresh air, is now a potential health risk.
  • Most importantly, as we emerge from our cocoons of self-isolating and lockdown, think about your actions, be aware of others around you, but keep it simple.