Re-Opening the Office: How to Prepare Your Workplace in the Wake of COVID-19

Estimates show that 25 to 30 percent of workers will be working from home several days a week by the end of 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated that trend but it's not an option for every business. If you're bringing employees back into your office as the COVID restrictions start to ease, you need to be sure the workplace is safe.

Let's look at some steps you need to take to be sure health guidelines are in place.

How a COVID-19 Outbreak Can Affect the Workplace

The coronavirus pandemic has affected many workplaces in several ways. One of the most obvious is employee absenteeism.

It's not only people who are sick that are absent though. Parents have to take time off to care for children while schools are closed. People caring for elderly parents or other family members need to be extra careful about the risk of exposure.

And the mental health impacts of the news can affect many people. Read more on How the COVID-19 Pandemic is affecting our Mental Health too

Beyond employees being out of the office, COVID has led to a drop in business for many companies. In some cases, this is because people have stopped buying their products and in others, it's due to supply chain interruptions.

Steps All Employees Can Take to Reduce the Risk

There are quite a few steps employees can take to lower the risk of a COVID outbreak in your office.

  • Frequent hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds, ideally with soap and water
  • Take regular self-assessments to be mindful of possible symptoms of the disease
  • Practice good respiratory etiquette by coughing or sneezing into a tissue or their arm, not their hand
  • Avoid sharing desks and other equipment
  • Wipe down shared spaces like photocopiers and printers before and after each use
  • Wear PPE like masks and gloves where appropriate

We all play a part in keeping one another safe so everyone needs to be mindful of each other's comfort levels. Some people might be more sensitive to personal space and precautionary measures than others but we all need to take a "no judgment" approach.

Steps the Employer Can Take to Lessen the Chance of an Outbreak

The employer sets the tone for how the rest of the office will act. As such, several things should be in place when your office re-opens.

  • Effective communications such as clearly marked walkways, reminders about physical distancing and other OSHA guidance, and orientation sessions for returning employees
  • Consider new policies for remote work and staggered shifts to reduce the number of people in the office at any given time
  • Provide the necessary PPE such as masks and gloves as well as soap, hand sanitizer, and cleaning wipes
  • Create a procedure for identifying and isolating employees exhibiting possible COVID symptoms

The employer's guidelines should be in place before re-opening the office but don't expect to think of everything ahead of time. Be prepared to be flexible and adjust as you find gaps or ways to improve.

Where to Turn for Advice

Every office needs to take steps to prevent a COVID outbreak but if you're in the healthcare industry, you could face even higher risks.

If that's the case, HIPAA Exams can help. Our COVID-19 in Healthcare training will take you through the current CDC recommendations for a hospital/healthcare setting.

Visit our site to learn more and to see some of our other popular courses.