As we transition into 2021, we continue to struggle against containing the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Many schools and businesses have cautiously re-opened their doors with the hope that the virus will dissipate. However, as we inch closer to the end of the year, hope can only get us so far. We must continue to develop comprehensive and actionable solutions that prioritize the health and safety of our most important asset — our employees. Learn how to create a safe workplace during COVID-19.
How to Create a Safe Workplace During COVID-19
Given the ease of transmission and the volume of environments we must protect, there is no single “right” solution. But, after nearly a year of battling this dangerous and deadly disease, we learned a few things regarding how to create a safe workplace during COVID-19. Read on to discover the potential effects of an outbreak as well as the three basic elements of a safe and healthy workplace.
The Potential Effects of a COVID-19 Outbreak on the Workplace
As most of us know by now, COVID-19 is a viral infection that spreads easily and can cause illnesses ranging from mild to severe and, in some cases, can be fatal. The virus is thought to spread mostly from person-to-person contact, which means navigating the office can be challenging at times. Like influenza, this virus has the potential to cause extensive outbreaks within a short period of time, and in the absence of a vaccine, these outbreaks could be prolonged events. As a result, workplaces may experience several negative effects, such as:
- Absenteeism: Employees may miss work because they are ill or because they are caring for an ill family member. They may also be absent if schools or daycare centers are closed. Lastly, at-risk individuals may choose to stay home due to fears of possible exposure.
- Changes in consumer demand: Customers may adjust their shopping patterns based on concerns regarding the virus — shopping during off-peak hours and increasing interest in home delivery services.
- Interruption in daily operations: Severely-impacted areas may have shipping delays and/or disruptions in service.
The Three Basic Elements of a Safe and Healthy Workplace
1. Aerosol Blocking
Creating barriers that block aerosol droplets is a great first step toward building a safer work environment and reducing an employee’s chances of contracting the novel coronavirus. When it comes to this type of protection, there are several options to choose from. The first option involves using mobile, acrylic shield barriers to offer protection when employees must interact with customers or other employees. This allows the employee to maintain visibility while avoiding contact with any aerosol droplets that may be in the air. The second option involves the use of panel-height extensions. These are a great way to offer added protection around cubicles and desk areas. Lastly, incorporating movable walls into your office space can create temporary space dividers that allow employees to work in a more confined, protected space.
2. Health Screening and Compliance
For an added layer of protection, companies will want to implement health screening procedures, including daily temperature and symptom checks for both employees and customers. This is an effective way to monitor the health and well-being of employees on an individual level. When an employee reports an elevated temperature or possible symptoms of the virus, it’s critical to take action in the form of quarantine and sanitation efforts. This is also an important step in demonstrating to your employees that you, as a business, are committed to maintaining a safe workplace. Our space planning experts can help you set up a temporary screening area within your office.
3. Mouth-Level Air Filtration System
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the implementation of a mouth-level air filtration system is a critical step in reducing viral particles in the air. By reducing the viral load in the air, you can greatly decrease the potential for transmission. In combination with standard social distancing and safe traffic flow, purification of the air ensures that employees can feel protected in their work environment.
Bonus: Don’t Forget Psychological Safety
Workplace design and safety protocols are critical components of a healthy, COVID-era work environment. However, it’s also important to consider the psychological well-being of your employees — their readiness to return from a mental standpoint. It’s helpful to consider how the pandemic has affected their personal lives and how it will affect their ability to perform at work. To help employees find emotional stability in a stressful and unpredictable climate, organizations will need to focus on work-life balance and allow employees to build flexibility into their daily routines. This will help employees to feel safe and cared for as they return to the office.
Let us help.
Our team at Workplace Furniture is dedicated to providing safe and affordable solutions that work and grow with you — even through a pandemic. We offer services that help you make the most of your space while maintaining health and safety guidelines. From planning services and budgeting to move management and installation, we’re committed to ensuring your office space is set up for success, now and beyond COVID-19.