It’s looking increasingly likely that offices will be able to reopen within the next couple of months. Now is, therefore, a good time to start making preparations for a return to on-site working. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Decide who is coming back when
At present, you should probably work on the assumption that social-distancing measures will stay in place for the immediate future. If so, then you may have to limit the number of people who can be in the office together. Even if your office itself has plenty of space, you need to think about the practicalities of entrances, lifts and bathrooms.
This means that you will need a robust way to decide who should be in the office at what time. Then you need an effective way to communicate this to your staff. You also need to think about how you will communicate any updates to your rota. Will you expect your staff to check proactively or will you push changes out to them e.g., by email?
Declutter and organize your space
Anything in your office should be either really needed or really wanted. In most cases, paper documents are neither so if you still have them in your office, now is the time to get rid of them. Firstly, they can encourage the transmission of COVID19 (as well as everyday germs). Secondly, they take up valuable space.
If you need to keep paper for legal reasons (or because you want to), then move it to offsite document storage. If staff need to have quick access to files, then digitize them before you move them. If you’re clearing out unwanted paper documents, then remember to have sensitive ones shredded before recycling. In fact, you might want to have all your documents shredded.
Once you’ve cleared out as much as you can, reassess your office layout. In particular, see if there’s anything you can do to reduce the need for staff to access centralized storage locations (e.g. stationery cupboards). For example, could you buy some small, moveable trolleys, fill them with key supplies and place them in key locations around the office?
Have everything deep cleaned
This may seem like stating the obvious, but everything really does mean everything. That’s floors to ceilings, walls to walls and any item anywhere in between. Do this well before employees are due to return so that cleaning smells have time to clear.
Put together cleaning packs for staff
Most offices will already have sufficient hand-washing facilities although it may not hurt to add extra hand-sanitizing stations. Your staff will, however, probably appreciate being provided with hand sanitizer and disposable wipes for cleaning items other people have touched e.g. door handles.
Emphasize ongoing COVID19 protocols
Firstly, you need to ensure that your employees understand what is expected of them when they go back to work. Ideally, you’ll explain them to them in person (individually or in groups) and then give periodic reminders e.g., via the company newsletter. Some protocols might include regular sanitizing of desks and the consistent wearing of face masks around the office. Employees can purchase face masks from https://stringking.com/ppe/face-masks/cloth-face-mask/, for example. Those sorts of protocols can help to ensure everyone stays safe.
Secondly, you need to make sure that high-level staff are being seen to practice what they preach. This is not only vital to preventing the spread of COVID19, but it will also help to keep you on the right side of the law and to avoid embarrassing reputational damage.
Joe Muddiman is the General Manager at Rads Document Storage, a secure facility based in Nottingham which provides professional document management services.
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