Office Life After Quarantine: What to Expect, How to Prepare
As states and communities across the country cautiously re-open, business owners are faced with a critical task: creating guidelines for office life after quarantine. Returning to the office safely and thoughtfully will require a lot of planning (and a little sacrifice) as we forget the old norms and usher in a new way of professional life. The goal is not just restoring your business to full health, but also safeguarding the health of your team. These guidelines (implemented and tested by our OnePiece Work team) are a great starting point for making your transition back to the office an easy one.
Before you return to the office, you’ll need a plan. Examine your layout, daily routines, non-essential contact, and every other aspect of office life — no matter how minor. The goal is to minimize risk with as little disruption to your business as possible. Create an easy to understand, step-by-step strategy that you can easily communicate to your employees and team members. Leave nothing to chance!
With your strategy in hand, you’re ready to communicate with your team. Use email, a virtual conference tool, or other channels that have worked well for you during quarantine. Be clear and detailed as you explain your new guidelines. Making your team feel comfortable and confident is critical — returning to the office right now is a leap of faith for some workers, and their safety is in your hands. Be prepared to answer questions.
Post your guidelines in common areas around your office. Entrances, bathroom doors, and kitchens are all high-visibility areas to consider. Make sure that your guidelines are easy to understand and easy to read. Choose bullet points over paragraphs. For even better engagement from your team, try an infographic.
Schedule regular deep cleanings of your facility as well as daily disinfection of high-touch points — like desk and countertops, door handles, sink fixtures, toilets, and more. Post your schedule and share it with your team. Provide hand sanitizer to your employees at various stations throughout the office.
If you have the resources, temperature checks upon entering the building add an extra level of precaution. These ensure that no individual showing symptoms of COVID-19 will unwillingly expose themself to the rest of your office. Just know that temperature checks will require additional employees and the proper equipment.
Revised Floor Plan & Social Distancing
This is one of the most challenging steps towards re-opening your office, but one of the most important. You’ll need to re-think your current layout to ensure that social distancing guidelines are being met. Moving or even removing furniture and desks may be required. Focus on shared desk space, “bays” of work stations, table-style seating, and any other features that put your employees at risk right now. Try this free software to help you visualize.
Mandatory Face Coverings
Require your employees to wear mandatory face coverings during office hours. Face coverings have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19 from infected individuals.
No Non-Essential Visitors
Limit your office population to just your team. Suspending visits from non-essential customers, vendors, delivery persons, family, and friends will limit exposure to your workers.
Consider smaller meetings or virtual conferencing from within the office. Avoid packing meeting spaces full of team members. Who needs to be there? Who can join remotely from their desk? Ask these questions as you resume face-to-face interactions in your office. Lean on the virtual tools that got you through remote working: they’re great for in-office distancing too.
No Communal Food/Drinks/Utensils
Ban shared utensils, glasses, and any other kitchenware that can transmit the virus amongst your team. Avoid shared food items, particularly those that are exposed to open air (like fruit bowls or candy dishes). Require all employees to use water bottles, and avoid water fountains.
Follow Arrows for Office Traffic Flow
Determine the flow of traffic for your office, and mark those paths with “one-way” arrows (use masking tape or painter’s tape to apply the arrows to your floor). The idea here is to create a streamlined, single-file pattern of traffic to minimize contact amongst your team throughout the day.
Stay Home if You Have Any Symptoms!
Make sure your team understands to stay home if they’re sick, showing any symptoms of COVID-19, or have come in contact with a known carrier of the virus. This is one of the easiest and most critical steps you can take to ensure that your return to the office is safe and healthy.
No Contact Mail Pick Up
Leave an inbox and an outbox in your delivery area, and designate a time (or create a schedule) when employees can retrieve it.
We have put together a series of community-curated webinars to discuss helpful topics for businesses during this time, including fundraising tips, financial solutions, and more. Visit our Eventbrite.