As more and more workers return to offices, managers and business owners are planning how to protect their staff. What at first may seem fairly straightforward often ends up far more complicated than you imagined! There are hygiene procedures and schedules to consider, along with protocols and compliance measures to implement. For businesses to thrive, though, adaptation must happen. Central to it all is maintaining and managing hygiene. So we look at the trickiest of all office spaces; the communal ones.
Plan when specific people are in the office to maximise the potential for social distancing. This means that communal spaces are never in danger of becoming overrun. This is more complex than simply dividing the workforce down the middle. Every business and industry faces different pressures, but aspects to consider include:
Businesses have embraced video conferencing like never before during this pandemic. However, in some circumstances physical presence is unbeatable. So are there regular meeting which requires specific attendees? Make sure you structure your schedules to allow for colleagues to meet and allow enough flexibility to facilitate those last-minute emergencies.
Most remote workers have missed the flow of office communication. And they probably never before noticed that it was happening! We all take for granted the ability to ask a quick question or shout out for feedback across an open-plan space. So consider how you can install a similar dynamic work ethic within your attendance planning.
With more workers requiring office access, try to schedule attendance without compromising cleaning time. Regular cleaning of hot spots and communal areas is vital in protecting and maintaining the health of your staff. So within your schedules, ensure a sufficient period is allocated daily for cleaners to properly disinfect communal areas.
Once people are present in an office building, it is critical to plan the way that they move around. This is especially so in communal areas. Direction can help to avoid congestion and help your staff to adhere to social distancing guidelines. If possible, consider one-way movement on staircases and narrow corridors. Plan flexibly so that you can respond quickly to changes in official guidance.
Visitors to your office building will predominantly be in communal areas. So it’s vital that they are informed of protocols and policies. Discourage unplanned visitors to the office. It shows consideration to your visitors as well as your resident staff if you are able to convey requirements in advance. Clear temporary signage around the building will help both visitors and staff.
Of course, you may have added a hand sanitising point to your reception area a long time ago. However, it’s vital to keep these facilities regularly restocked. Otherwise, there’s little point in having them there in the first place! Reception is a great place to display detailed protocols of moving around your office building. Display guidance notes, floorplan maps and arrows to indicate the direction of flow.
You may need to limit numbers within meeting rooms. So clearly display the maximum number of occupants at the entrance to each meeting room. Don’t forget that meeting rooms house a large number of contact points: door handles, communal telephones and connection points. Be stringent with regular disinfection of these areas.
We can’t emphasise enough the importance of regular cleaning and vigilance in these areas. Your staff will appreciate hand sanitising points so make sure supplies are restocked and bins cleared; if you don’t already have these aspects professionally managed, now is the time! While you may have turned office kitchen hygiene over to staff members in the past, consider adding this room to your daily cleaning contract. With the crossover of staff that socially distant office use requires, this is the only way to ensure that the space meets hygiene requirements.
There’s a lot of touching that goes on in an office kitchen! Microwaves, kettles, coffee machines and fridges. You can’t sanitise each one every time it’s touched. So include clear signage to direct staff to wash hands on both entering and leaving the kitchen area.
We’re sure your office bathrooms are covered in signage about correct hand washing! The key now for office bathrooms is in implementing a procedure for waiting to use the facilities. Mark an area for staff to queue outside the bathroom itself and encourage people to leave the area promptly to allow for the next person to use the facilities.
Humans are social beings so as your business welcomes staff back into the office building, it is natural that they will interact socially. So make sure that social areas are equipped to accommodate this. Implement directional flow, usage time limits and maximum occupancy numbers. Encourage taking breaks out of the building where staff can interact in local green spaces.
Once you have constructed and communicated your office protocol to staff, you obviously expect them to comply. As a business owner or manager, it’s your end of the bargain to maintain facilities to a high standard. Perhaps this means increasing the frequency and level of professional cleaning, especially in communal areas. It is these communal areas which carry the highest risk of transmission. So an office cleaning contract should focus on these areas in the medium term.
A good professional office cleaning organisation is able to work in an agile way; making changes and adaptations to the requirements of their client. And this is what office buildings need now, as we gradually adapt back to some form of normality. Just contact us to work out your plan.