COVID-19 in the office

COVID-19 has reduced the hours that employees spend in their offices by 10.5%. While this has lowered people’s contact with the virus, it has not stopped its spread in offices.  Presently, the number of patients is rising.

Besides, employers are facing new challenges. First, the guidelines laid out for such viruses as influenza have failed to contain the virus.  Additionally, sick offs have increased employee absence in the workplace, forcing poorly trained personnel to perform skilled jobs.  The legal issues facing employers in the workplace have also increased. For example, workers who become ill as a result of their employers’ carelessness can sue them.

Below are some of the things that leading firms are doing to protect their employees and avoid lawsuits. 

 COVID-19 Education

Creating a 100% risk-free office is challenging since one cannot control all the factors involved. Managers who have succeeded in creating safe spaces understand that they cannot control their employees’ actions outside the office. They also know that their workers’ private activities have a huge effect on their success.  By educating their workers, they have been able to influence their behavior and reduce the rates of new infections.

If you have not yet conducted employee education, please ensure that you enroll your employees in a comprehensive COVID-19 class. Some of the topics that you should cover include the presenting symptoms, hand washing, social distancing, and face covering. Addressing the false beliefs in your area will also prevent the virus’ spread in your office by ending poor practices.

Employee Support

Training is not enough. Your employees are dealing with a new system which requires teamwork. Supporting them not only shows your commitment to the new rules but also eases the transition.

One of the most effective ways to support your employees is by creating new and clear office rules and cultures. For example, you should prohibit physical touch within the office. You should also direct that employees take their breaks at different times.

Additionally, you can support your employees by setting up systems that help them to follow the new rules. For instance, you can assign different staircases for people going up and people going down to aid social distancing. Moreover, you should directthat only a small number of people can use the lifts at once.

Physical Office Changes

Your office layout could also sabotage your efforts. Therefore, you should also examine the risks posed by the office design. For instance, poorly aired offices have previously been found to raise the risk of virus transfer. As such, if your office spaces are crowded, you should acquire additional air ventilation devices.  

Similarly, small office spaces can deter your efforts. If letting additional spaces is not viable, you can use thin transparent glass barriers to limit physical contact between people. Covering part of the waiting benches with tape will also prevent visitors from sitting close to each other, reducing the COVID-19 risks.

To support social distancing, you can also use visible floor markings to show where people should sit or stand. Besides, you should adjust office furniture to ensure that employees maintain a proper distance.

Shared items, such as coffee makers, can also be replaced with more automated gadgets. Where this is hard due to costs and other factors, dispensers holding sanitizers can be placed next to the communal items. Before using these gadgets, employees would use the sanitizers, preventing virus transfer.

Social and Managerial Changes

Changing the way people relate is also vital for the prevention of the virus’ spread.  Some of the most popular measures include working from home. Remote working not only reduces the costs incurred to change the office layout but also reduces the risks caused by human contact.

Likewise, employees who have sick family members or show COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home. They should also inform the management about any such events to enable them to respond quickly and fitly. Such employees should only report back after clearance by a trusted health officer.

You should also ensure that employees take part in daily health checks before going into the office. The checks should include temperature taking and symptoms checks.

No Longer Business as Usual

COVID-19 is one of the biggest challenges of 2020. Like every other citizen, employers must prevent the spread of the virus in the country. However, its spread cannot be stopped using previous means.  As such, today’s employers have to make new changes that protect their employees and third parties.

Besides, the virus has already affected many firms. Ignoring it will reduce your employees’ output further and expose your firm to more legal suits. On the other hand, proper measures will enable the company to pull through this period.

Additionally, the risk of a similar virus rising in the future cannot be ignored. Taking the safety measures above will enable employers to deal with similar events in the future.