As we find ourselves evolving and adapting to life during COVID-19, we are all trying to discover what will be the new normal. Recent months have resulted in lifestyle changes for us at home and at work, both of which will most likely forever be changed. In today’s post, we take a look at some of the common questions we’re hearing during this time: what does our work environment look like in this “new norm”, how can we make this work, and what can we do to improve this work environment?
COVID-19 in the Workplace
First off, let’s discuss the basics of how COVID-19 can spread in the workplace.
Let’s say you decide to buy coffee for the office, but what you don’t know, is that you’re currently in the asymptomatic phase of COVID-19. You get everyone’s coffee situated in your car and then sneeze, unknowingly contaminating the coffee cups, or maybe you sneeze in your hands and then grab the coffee cups after you’ve parked without sanitizing your hands. Either way, these coffees are now carrying COVID-19 and as your coworkers happily drink their coffees, they are now at risk.
This is just one of the many potential ways one can unknowingly bring COVID into their workspace. Now let’s look at what can be done to make your workplace a safer environment.
Whether you mandate masks in your workspace or not, one of the best things you can do is to provide masks and hand sanitizer by all entrances. Then you have a better chance of stopping COVID-19 at the door. If possible, you can even implement temperature checks at the entrance of your workplace using an infrared thermometer.
Reimagine Your Work Space
Whether your staff is back in the office or not it’s worth taking the time to reimagine how your office space functions. You can take steps like:
- Moving team members who work together into one area
- Making sure all team members are able to work socially distanced when possible
- Restricting how many are in community spaces at a time (office kitchen, open workspaces, etc.)
- Having printers or shared items in a zone that is in the middle of all workspaces, so that people aren’t entering each other’s spaces.
Of course, there is no one size fits all solution for every business. Each company works in a unique way, so schedule a brainstorming session and see what solutions can be made!
Introduce A Rotating Work Schedule
If possible, you can split up your company into group A and group B. Group A works from home Monday through Tuesday, while group B works in the office. Then Wednesday and Thursday group A works in the office, while group B works at home. Then Friday everyone works from home, and the office gets deep cleaned. This can go a long way towards reducing the potential exposure and spread if one of your employees becomes sick.
One way to prevent contamination in your work bubble is to move all interviews into the virtual world. This removes the risk of bringing new people into your office until you are sure you want to hire them.
A New Way To Handle Business Meetings
It’s likely that you and your team have regular meetings and then some meetings sprinkled throughout the day or week. However, this can be an easy way to expose your whole team to COVID-19 if someone on your team is asymptomatic. By moving all meetings to Zoom or Google Hangouts, you can eliminate the chance of the whole team getting sick. If you don’t want to host virtual meetings, then the next best step would be to meet in an open space where everyone can be distanced. If neither of these options are available, then having your team wear masks is the next best step.
Keeping office morale up is one of the most important aspects of running a business like a well-oiled machine. However, that can be easier said than done during a worldwide pandemic.
COVID-19 has introduced many stressors into the lives of almost everyone, which is why companies are beginning to provide free virtual mental health through companies like LyraHealth. Starbucks was one of the first companies to put this into practice, providing all of its employees with ten free calls a year.
You can also:
- Check-in on one another
- Step outside from time to time to clear your head
- Encourage virtual hangouts
- Increase communication
- Keep your staff updated on big accomplishments
- Be flexible with each other
- Look over your employee healthcare plan
What To Remember In The New Norm
The best way you as an employer or an employee can do, is to take simple measures, or what the CDC calls “Standard Precautions” such as:
By taking the time to keep these in mind, you’ll be doing your part to keep yourself safe and all those around you. It’s important to remember that this too shall pass and that life will return to normal. At Neese Personnel we believe that by loving one another and working together nothing is impossible. Check out our other blogs, such as Inclusion & Diversity In The Workplace, for more ideas of how to be a leader in your workplace and champion an environment that brings out the best in everyone.