Times can be quite worrying at the moment; we all need to get to work and earn money, but many of us are panicking about COVID-19 and how to keep our working areas as hygienic as possible.
Our Top Tips on How to Keep Your Workplace Safe
We’ve compiled a blog post including our top tips on how to keep your working environment as clean and as safe as possible in the current climate. We recommend carrying out the actions below and always keep updated with the latest health authorities’ guidelines on preventing COVID-19.
What Is COVID-19 and How Did It Spread?
Like SARS and MERS, COVID-19 is a coronavirus. The latest coronavirus causes acute respiratory disease and due to its infancy, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how this virus works. However, various health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) have been researching and releasing information about COVID-19 since it became known across the world at the end of 2019.
WHO describes the latest coronavirus to be spread through direct contact with an infected person (through nose and mouth secretions), but it can also be spread through direct and indirect contact (for example through contaminated areas and surfaces).
What Can We Do to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19?
Life must go on, even in times of a pandemic. There are ways in which the general public can keep each other safe when going out and about for shopping, daily chores, commuting to work, and so forth.
To make you and everyone around you safer, it is recommended to:
- Keep a safe distance from those around you (at least 1.5 metres)
- Wash your hand thoroughly (with soap) frequently
- Use hand sanitiser where soap and water are not available
- Stay home if you have any COVID-19 symptoms
- Avoid large gatherings and prolonged meetings
- Keep updated with the latest health advice
What Steps Can Be Taken in the Workplace?
If your office is open, there will be a lot of changes in place. Work doesn’t have to be stressful with the new methods. You can still operate in a suitable environment.
If your office or workplace has not yet opened, you need to prepare in advance. The steps you take in preventing COVID-19 in your workplace will be affected by numerous points.
You need to think, will I have customers coming into the area? How many staff will be present? Do I have any staff who are more susceptible to COVID-19? By asking yourself these questions and finding the correct support and answers for each question will help you run as smoothly and safely as possible.
Access to hand washing and sanitising facilities
We are all not far from a bottle of hand sanitiser these days and the office should be the same. Set up wall dispensers or hand sanitising stations around the workplace for when people can not wash their hands with soap and water immediately.
Places frequently touched or where people may have touched their mouths and so on are the best areas. These include: near doors, entrances and exits, and canteens.
The CDC gives great advice on how to disinfect your building and one of these steps is to double clean by using soap and following with a disinfectant. A list of EPA approved cleaners can be found here. Please note, these are to be used on surfaces only and are not to be used for human skin. Please protect yourself when using any cleaning products when cleaning your office to prevent COVID-19.
Use personal protective equipment
When you open your workplace for business again, you may want to consider using personal protective equipment. This could be something as simple as wearing a mask. Each local Australian body assesses the latest COVID-19 situation in their area and releases information regarding these issues. However, if you feel unsafe, you may want to consider wearing a mask, especially where distancing is difficult.
If you are thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting an area of your office yourself, you may also want to consider wearing PPE, such as gloves and a mask. If you choose to wear PPE, ensure you read the proper guidelines on how to wear it and remove and dispose of it in a safe manner.
Ventilate the area
Ventilation could be a key factor in reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially in the office. Offices can become stuffy, and with multiple workers coming into the space, it is important to get fresh air circulating in the space any day of the week. You can keep your office ventilated by opening the windows and doors, using filtration systems, and so forth. The World Health Organization lists numerous ways to keep areas well ventilated in times of COVID-19.
However you choose to open and run your business, it is crucial to keep all members of staff on the same page as you. If you work together (in a socially distanced way), the chances of everything running well increase and you’ll have an all-round happier and healthier working environment.
Carry out workplace physical distancing
It may be hard to keep yourself away from the coworkers that you know and get on with well. However, the reality of the situation is that even with proper frequent cleaning, we all need to keep our distance. It only takes one encounter to start off the spreading of any type of coronavirus. Try to keep apart as much as possible and if in cases where keeping a safe distance is unavoidable, wear a face covering.
Encourage working from home
If you have staff that do not need to be physically present in the office every day, encourage them to work from home as much as possible. You can alternate shifts to keep physical presence to a minimum, keeping everyone safer from further COVID-19 spread. There are numerous tools to track desk time, have online meetings, share ideas, exchange instant messages and so forth for keeping your office running from home.
What Can Employees do to Prevent COVID-19?
As well as following guidelines listed above, there are many ways in which employees can look after themselves and their colleagues when returning to work. Employees can try to:
- Take less crowded routes to work when commuting
- Travel to work alone
- Be aware of other members of their household
- Avoid using shared facilities (for example drinking fountains)
- Partake in frequent hand washing
- Maintain distance from coworkers
- Keep personal items off the floor and in a drawer or locker
- Avoid using mobile phones and personal items during work times
- Avoid touching your face
- Use the stairs instead of the lift
- Eat lunches/meals alone
- Take tea and coffee breaks alone
- Keep in communication with bosses and coworkers
- Keep updated with news from local health authorities
Keep Your Employees Happy
We know that times are difficult; even more so when you are trying to run a business in times of a pandemic, all while keeping your working environment healthy (both physically and mentally). Aside from keeping your office as hygienic as possible to prevent COVID-19, it is also important to think of the mental health of your staff and how these changes in life will impact them both in and outside of the workplace. Annual huge gatherings, buffets, drinks, parties and so forth may not be doable this year, but there are other ways you can keep your staff motivated and create a healthy working environment. Consider an online staff quiz, working incentives, cafe and restaurant vouchers, distanced themed days, give feedback on how well they are doing. The list is endless and we know it’s difficult, but we’re all in this together.
Everyone over here at ServTown knows how tough it is to keep your workers happy and your workplace clean, but we just wanted to let you know that you can do it. Keep going and stay safe. Times are hard all round, but through communication and safe practices, we can all do it.