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The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has changed many aspects of the current workplace, and soon, employers should begin planning for what their post-coronavirus office will look like. Previously, social distancing and COVID-19-related best practices hadn’t been a topic on the mind of most employers or employees. By updating office layouts, encouraging new behaviors and expanding remote work options, employers can help prevent the spread of future diseases, and protect the health and safety of employees.

 

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Physical changes to work spaces

 

As employers prepare for employees who will be returning to the office, organizations can consider the following best practices for their office space:

  • Increasing each employee’s personal space, and ensuring desks are 6 feet or more apart
  • Creating walls and barriers between cubicles
  • Creating a walk-traffic flow that discourages congestion
  • Updating air-filtration systems
  • Installing automatic doors
  • Installing UV lighting systems
  • Installing no-touch soap dispensers and sinks in bathrooms
  • Making hand sanitizer and cleaning products readily available

While updating practices to best prevent the spread of illnesses will also require changes in behavior, employers can take a step in the right direction by ensuring their physical office space is aligned with encouraged behaviors of employees.

 

Behavioral changes

While every business is different, there are practices many organizations can implement and behaviors they can encourage. Common post-coronavirus adjustments may include:

  • Create expectations for handwashing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the best actions to prevent the spread of coronaviruses is washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Encourage employees to do so often, and consider creating policies to reinforce this behavior.
  • Ban or discourage shaking of hands. While shaking hands is an instinct in many cases, this practice can spread germs, diseases and illnesses at an expedited rate.
  • Increase cleaning schedules. According to the CDC, COVID-19 can remain on hard surfaces for up to 12 hours, creating a potential risk of transmission. Review how cleaning schedules can be more frequent and thorough.
  • Adjust meeting practices. Encourage limited amounts of participants in meetings, and advise them to spread out and avoid sharing multi-touch devices.

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