Staying safe doesn’t stop when everyone starts returning to work! Here is a guide to social distancing in the workplace for workers and employers!
Millions of Americans have had to adjust their workspace in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than going into the office, a considerable portion of the population work from home to stall coronavirus’s spread. Eventually, though, they will likely return to their old workplaces — and they’ll have to adhere to a new normal.
It’s safe to say that social distancing workplaces will be required for some time. But how can employers create a safety protocol that keeps their workforce healthy? And how can employees ensure their own well-being?
Here are the best practices for everyone to adopt before returning to work.
- Check the CDC Guidelines
Before you do anything, make sure that what you’re doing falls in line with CDC guidelines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have studied the virus and issued quarantine advice throughout the pandemic. For workplaces, they have a guide on how to reopen essential businesses so that they’re safe for employees and customers.
Once it’s time for your company to reopen its doors, check their website’s section for businesses and employees first. Learn how to protect your team — and yourself — as the CDC recommends.
- Decide Who Returns When
Not everyone should be in the office at the same time unless you have a small team or a vast space.
Before returning to work, figure out which essential team members will come back first. Choose them based on their ability to create a social distancing workplace — map out six-foot gaps and place people in each safe bubble.
If everyone’s itching to get back to the office, you can also stagger the schedule. That way, everyone gets to come back to their workspace, but within a chosen social bubble. Don’t mix who comes in on which days to reduce exposure to a minimum.
- Implement Social Distancing Workplace Procedures
Once you have a schedule, come up with how staff will be protected from COVID-19.
You might start by mapping out a six-foot grid on the floor with tape, so that team members know to stay away from each other. If necessary, add barriers around desks or counters to block the passage of particles.
On top of that, staffers should wear masks while they work. They should frequently wash their hands and maintain distance even when they’re away from their desks. Encourage the team to bring lunches that won’t require the breakroom microwave — the less social contact, the better.
You might want to make an informational video or slideshow to introduce your team to these new requirements, as well.
- Don’t Give Up on Remote Working
Until we’ve beaten COVID-19, there’s no harm in continuing to work remotely.
If you’re finding it too challenging to create a social distancing workplace, then give the team the option to continue working from home. Some might be more comfortable with this option. If you’re the employee, speak up if you’re uncomfortable returning — you could make a case to maintain your remote status.
In the end, safety is the most important. If you can’t guarantee it in the office, don’t go back. But if you can, and you feel comfortable going back to work, then do so with care.
And, if you need more updates, check out our up-to-date news coverage on COVID-19 and other relevant current events.