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COVID-19: How to Prepare Your Workplace for Post-Lockdown Return

As the government begins to lift restrictions on business operations, employers and their staff will want to know how to transit to a safer way to work at their offices. 

Various states have adapted the general guidelines issued by the federal government to their local situation. You may want to review those rules so you know what obtains in your location.

But government pronouncements can only go so far when you’re defining the steps you should take at your own company. Whatever measures you choose to take, they should take the peculiarities of your work setting and processes.

Here, we’ll provide you with some practical things you can do to protect your workplace and staff from the coronavirus.

Before You Resume

1. Clean Your Office Location

Consider disinfecting your office location and the surrounding area. Fumigate the business premises; clean the surfaces in the area (tables, chairs, equipment, floor, and places outside of the main work spaces).

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2. Set up Hand-washing Facilities and Disinfecting Areas

These compartments should be located at the entrance to your offices, with hand sanitizers and other cleaning agents. Anyone coming in– whether they are employees or visitors –should wash and clean their hands at this point before entering into your work spaces.

3. Install Temperature Testing

This should also be available at the point of entry. This is important because it could pick up signs of a fever, and allow you to refer anyone affected for adequate medical attention.

4. Draw Up Policies that Suit the Situation

Review your HR policy and ensure that everyone who works at your establishment comes in with personal protective equipment (such as face mask and gloves). Also adjust office hours to suit the requirements of the state in which you work. 

Consider allowing some of your staff to work remotely, or ask them to alternate between working from home and doing so from the office. This will help you decongest your workplace and allow for social distancing. 

5. Communicate Your Protocols to Staff

Your staff should know about the new rules that apply at the workplace before they come in. Communicate your company’s policy concerning workplace with them, so they can prepare for the new normal.

Getting to Work

6. Arrange A Means of Transport for Workers if You Can

Arrange transport vehicles (a bus or buses) to convey your workers to the office, if you can afford to do so. Remember to enforce the social distancing rules on those vehicles, as recommended by your state government.

Employees can also use private transport. When neither company nor private vehicles are available, workers who use public transport should be careful to maintain social distance throughout their journey to their office. They could wash their hands at the decontaminating unit upon arrival at the office premises.

7. Manage Entry into Your Site

Make sure each worker or guest comes in at different times. Only one person should be allowed into your premises at a time. Also, ensure that they have face masks on while they are coming in. 

Restrict the hours in which you attend to visitors. And if there are employees who fall under the ‘vulnerable persons’ category (if they are above the age of 60 or have a long-running health condition), you can have them come in at separate hours, or work from home.

At Work

8. Enforce Social Distancing

Do this by asking your workers to come in on alternate days. For instance, some of them could come in on Mondays and Wednesdays, and others on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This will allow you implement physical separation at their workstations.

Stagger lunch hours. You can allow some of your staff to take a lunch break at one time, and permit another set to do so when the time for the first group is up.   

Only allow meetings with visitors if they are very important. You may condense regular meetings to exchanges via email. Alternatively, you could hold video conferences. 

Ensure that your customers are standing two meters apart from each other when they come around. This is especially important if you sell physical products at your location.

9. Go Contactless

Minimize the need to collect cash payments. Pay your vendors electronically, and ask your customers to pay for your services via e-payment channels.  When a supplier delivers packages to you, they should drop them at the entrance to your office and let you (or another worker) pick the items up. Do the same if you’re delivering to other people or establishments.

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10.  Maintain Personal Hygiene

Even if you place alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entrance to your business location, you should encourage your workers to carry one around with them too. They can have a spare facemask with them, besides the one they are wearing.  

Wash your hands for up to 20 seconds as often as possible; cough and sneeze into your elbow; and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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