7 Ways To Safely Return To The Office Post-COVID

Make Return-to-Work Plans

Now that the COVID-19 vaccinations are being rolled out, employers and employees are beginning to wonder what life post-pandemic will look like. Will office life as we know it ever return to “normal”? Well, we don’t have the answer to that question, but we can share the procedures and culture that Sesh Coworking has built in the last 9 months that has kept our coworkers and staff healthy and safe in our workspace loft. 

Wear Masks.

Since we re-opened in June of 2020, staff and clients have worn masks upon entry. Our business requires staff to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking. We allow clients when seated at their workstations, in phone booths or tiny offices to remove their masks. We have gentle reminders about wearing masks located at entrances and doorways throughout our space.

Social Distancing In The Office.

All of our workstations have been spaced at least 6 feet apart. We also went an extra step further to turn our workstations so they no longer face one another. Moving workstations or desks may oftentimes be a more difficult step for smaller offices or those confined by desking systems that are bulky and attached, like trading desks or long, library style tables. Our suggestion for seating arrangements that can not be moved is to seat employees at every other “workstation”. 

Divide Your Work Space.

Whether actual physical barriers or gentle reminders that remind folks of social distancing practices. 

  • For example, we ordered floor stickers to be placed in entrances and high congestion areas like the front desk and coffee station that remind coworkers to “Be Smart & Stay 6ft Apart”.
  • Businesses can also get thrifty with DIY dividers made from plexi glass and shelf brackets, like you see here

Or you may be able to use dividers like we did from Amazon

Fresh Air Does An Office Good. 

When the Houston weather permits at Sesh we open our back doors to let in the fresh air. If you don’t have ground level access to open a door, you may consider opening your windows in for 5 minutes in the evenings and mornings to circulate fresh air into your space. 

Investing in a few tabletop air purifiers, like this one we bought, can also help clean the air in an office lacking well ventilated windows or doors. One tip about the air purifiers we learned is having the UV light is important and that their placement is important. They need to be placed in the vicinity of where you want and/or need the air purified, so they need to be placed on the level of where the germs and bacteria exist. For example, in high congestion areas like on top of the conference room table or on the counter in the kitchen or break room table.

Become A Plant Mom, At Work.

Living plants in an office have many benefits outside of just making your space more aesthetically pleasing. Having plants in your office can help reduce stress, fatigue as well as impact the body’s response to allergens and illness. The improved air quality and psychological value of being in a more pleasant environment has profound benefits for your office mates.

Wash Your Damn Hands.

While this may seem like an overstated obvious point, post signs in your restrooms and kitchen areas to remind folks that washing their hands reduces the risk of infection. You may also consider placing dispensers for hand sanitizers in high congestion areas – kitchen or break room, conference room, phone booths, office entrances, or outside the bathroom.

Employee Responsibility.

Health is Wealth.

Employees need to understand that you, as a workplace leader, place importance on the overall health of your community within the office. 

  1. Encourage employees to get outside. To schedule in a weekly outdoor lunch or 15 minute walking break. Or if possible, put a headset on and take a phone call outside. The more they are outside the less they are forced to wear a mask, breathe in fresh air and most importantly have a little boost in their vitamin D. 
  2. Have everyone in the office pitch in to keep high-touch areas sanitized. Assign certain areas like those listed below to have each person wipe down.
    1. Door & drawer knobs
    2. Phones
    3. Chair Arms
    4. Keyboards
    5. Faucets
    6. Light Switches
    7. Shared Copiers & devices

What Can You Do As An Office Leader?

  1. Make it a habit to ask each employee how they are doing or if they have weekend plans to open lines of more personal communication.
  2. Remind folks it’s okay to take time off to get the vaccine, get tested or are feeling ill. Allowing employees to continue to practice working-from-home, sets the stage for open communication that will reduce the stress and pressure in openly communicating.
  3. Demonstrate your commitment to office health by allowing staff/employees to see you disinfecting surfaces, refilling hand sanitizers, wearing a mask, etc. 
  4. Promote team building and you’ll have a less stressed and healthier team. While this point may seem counter-intuitive, encourage employees to have lunch together once a month. Whether they BYO-Lunch or you all order food together, eating together is bonding and it allows people to relax, communicate and get to know each other – which ultimately improves company morale and culture. 

Written by: Maggie Segrich

Edited by: Brynn Heggen

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