After months of what we’ve all accepted as a “new normal,” it’s time to change gears again as we consider what it means to return to work. Every workplace will undergo different transformations to account for regional and global safety protocols, prompting organizations to implement office-wide changes to space and policy to ensure everyone’s safety.
While partial-remote or full-remote work is still possible for some, other organizations are starting to transition back to the workplace. And although individual workstations and shared spaces can be quartered off to varying degrees, for many of us, multi-person meetings are a near requirement.
In this article, we’ll share some tips for conducting safe office meetings post COVID-19.
Preventative Measures For Safe Meetings
Office Managers and/or cleaning crews will need to set new expectations for space sanitation.
You owe it to your employees to take any and all preventative measures to maintain their optimal health and wellbeing. After we’ve all had to adjust to a life of social distancing and isolation, many of us are eager to return to how things used to be. This can be a great win for our mental health, but it’s critical to stress the importance of maintaining a clean and responsible workplace for employees (and all of their friends and family by extension).
As symptoms can present differently from patient to patient, it’s not wise to assume who could be a potential carrier of COVID. Instead, preventative measures should be taken when possible. Here are some solutions for preventing unnecessary exposure to germs in your office:
1. Curb unnecessary meetings
Even before COVID, companies were frequently looking for ways to operate with greater agility and efficiency. Now as offices work to re-open their doors and let their employees in, it’s even more important to limit interactions that take place in close quarters.
Consider which meetings are truly necessary, and of those meetings, which ones need to take place in a shared environment vs. video conferencing app.
2. Designate a contact ambassador
One unique approach to combat unnecessary exposure to surfaces is to select one or more employees to be contact ambassadors in your office. This individual, or team, will be in charge of enforcing your company’s new COVID policies. Contact ambassadors should be the team members assigning certain tasks like distributing mail or documents, opening doors, and cleaning. An example of a contact ambassador’s role would be to open the door to a conference room before and after meetings. By having the same person touching a surface, you’re able to prevent the transfer of germs from one employee to another.
Additionally, contact ambassadors could also be tasked with research and source solutions to reduce touchpoints in the office. These solutions include motion sensor light switches, interior and exterior doors, automated soap and tissue dispensers, etc.
3. Double-up on space and time
Achieving a safe and sterile office environment is going to require some creativity and patience. In order to maintain proper social distancing within your same office environment, you may need to re-design your workstations to allow your employees to navigate their work routine without contacting one of their coworkers.
If you don’t have the budget to better distribute your employees, you can lean on remote work to prevent overcrowding your workplace too soon. Encourage employees who are comfortable working from home, or who aren’t essential to have in the office to continue working remotely. You can also try alternating schedules to minimize your in-office occupancy.
Another factor to consider as you shift your business from remote to in-person is that asking your employees to help maintain new cleaning standards will likely take time away from their work-related activities. To help prevent a dip in productivity, consider hiring a day porter to help with office cleaning tasks instead.
Cleaning vs. Disinfecting
What’s the Difference?
You might assume that during this pandemic that shared spaces should be disinfected constantly to combat the spread of Covid. The reality of how often you should be cleaning vs. disinfecting is actually far more reasonable. Excessive cleaning and disinfecting is a poor use of resources.
Cleaning is a quicker process that uses a simple solution to remove dirt and germs from surfaces. The majority of dust, dirt, and germs will be carried away by the cloth or paper towel used to clean the surface.
Disinfecting uses strong chemicals to kill germs lingering on the surface. This process takes more time to allow the disinfectant to work. As supplies may be limited, the EPA has collected a list of accepted disinfectants to combat Covid-19.
When to clean
Cleaning should increase during this time, especially in areas of heavy use. The CDC recommends at least daily cleaning of surfaces. Any shared spaces where contact is certain (like a boardroom table, for example) should be cleaned more frequently.
When to disinfect
Daily cleaning should keep your office safe, however, if there is a surface that has been exposed to someone known to be infected, it needs to be disinfected immediately. Companies can also take extra precautions by disinfecting high traffic surfaces like handles and tables daily.
Surfaces to Clean Between Meetings
It used to be sufficient to clean most surfaces once per day and, for some surfaces, weekly or less. Now, every time a new surface is used, a room is shared, or space is occupied, it must be sanitized. Focus on key, high-contact areas between every meeting or engagement, to keep everyone extra-safe:
- Tables and chairs
- Doorknobs and handles
- Tech surfaces (A/V, keyboards, touch screens, phones, clickers)
- Light switches
Consider Hiring an Office Cleaning Company
Before COVID started, we published a list of 13 signs that you might want to consider outsourcing your workplace cleaning needs to an expert office cleaning company. With our additional public health concerns in tow, the reasons for getting additional cleaning support are amplified even more. A professional cleaning company will have created an entirely new, expertly-informed cleaning protocol to meet standards for re-opening, and they will have the manpower and equipment necessary to keep your ecosystem safe for all.
If you need help to find, hire, and manage a cleaning company for your office, we’re here for you. Check out what Eden’s Workplace Management Platform can do for your office.