iCrowdNewswire Nov 3, 20204:54 AM ET
The World Health Organization health guidelines and government restrictions have forced many businesses to adopt work-from-home policies. That’s had its advantages, but employees are set to return to the office as the pandemic curve flattens. So, what will the new workplace environment look like? How will businesses go about their operations without violating the COVID-19 rules or jeopardizing their employees’ and customers’ safety?
The new office setting
As strange as it may sound, the modern workplace environment may never go back to its pre-pandemic state, even if the virus subsides. Instead of holding back and waiting for a more accommodative atmosphere, business owners should align their office spaces with the new normal and adjust as the pandemic’s course changes. Here is what that means:
- Hiring coworking office spaces
It should go without saying that most small businesses will struggle to get back on track after all the disruptions. Survival may call for continued dependence on work-from-home policies or the use of companies such as Novel Coworking to acquire cheaper office spaces. How you choose your strategy should be dictated by factors such as your type of business operations and your financial muscle. If remote working is delivering the goods for you, then stick with it.
- Rearranging office furniture
To comply with social distancing rules, you may have to rearrange your furniture and make use of those large empty spaces in your office. Employee desks should be at least six feet apart, if possible. Unnecessary furniture and items such as potted plants should be moved or removed to create more room. Visual design cues and a one-way-traffic policy may also help enforce social distancing and keep office users from making accidental contact.
- Installing plexiglass barriers
Grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and many other businesses have installed temporary glass barriers to keep the virus from spreading. The same can be applied in office areas with in-person interactions and high foot traffic. Plexiglass barriers can be installed between employee desks and in hallways and conference rooms.
- Acquiring hand sanitizers
Hand washing or using a hand sanitizer is the simplest and arguably the most effective way to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but it is also one of the most overlooked measures. As employees return to the normal office setting, businesses should consider installing hand sanitizer stations in office entrances and other common spaces such as reception areas, conference rooms, restrooms, and break rooms. If possible, equip employee desks with personal stations or get each employee their personal hand sanitizer with proper guidelines for use.
- Repurposing communal spaces
Repurposing employee lounges, cafeterias, and conference rooms that are probably not being used at the moment is a good way to spread out your workforce more and get around the need to hire new office spaces.
- Upgrading ventilation and air filtration
A coronavirus infection occurs when a healthy person comes into contact with droplets of mucus from an infected person when they breathe, talk, cough, sneeze, or spit. While the bulk of these droplets dissipate quickly, smaller particles remain in the air longer.
You can rid your office space of these potentially viral droplets by improving air circulation in the room. Larger businesses may consider upgrading their air conditioning systems, but you can acquire portable air purifiers if you are on a budget.
Why you should take your workforce back to the office as early as possible
Working from a home office is a total win for any employee with an ounce of discipline. For one, it allows them to adopt flexible schedules. It also saves them time and money as they won’t need to commute to work or eat from those expensive midtown eateries anymore. With that being said, remote working has its disadvantages both to the employer and the employee, and there is a good chance they might outweigh the benefits.
Firstly, the lack of direct supervision could make it extremely difficult for employees to stick to schedules. Some may not have the right communication equipment to continue working effectively in a team. There will also be an increase in mistakes since employees have to make phone calls to get assistance from colleagues and clarifications from managers.
There is also no guarantee that employees will save more money working from home compared to an office setting, and it is difficult to take sides without considering company-specific facts and circumstances, but working in an office setting may have the edge on remote working, at least from the business’s perspective.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on business operations, with companies being forced to adhere to WHO recommendations at the expense of productivity and profits. While it is understandable that production must continue, you cannot ignore the threat that the pandemic poses on your employees and your customers and their loved ones, so take the time to find a back-to-work strategy with the perfect balance of convenience and safety.