As the number of COVID-19 cases drops across the country, many states are beginning to reopen businesses and schools, as well as revoking mask mandates and loosening other safety restrictions.
But, as the New York Times reported, federal health officials are concerned that state and local leaders may be moving too fast, just as other, potentially more dangerous variants of the Coronavirus begin to take hold.
“I know people are tired; they want to get back to life, to normal,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But we’re not there yet.”
Businesses, in particular, must walk a fine line between the need to resume normal operations and the need to protect their employees in the workplace. While some companies during the pandemic have transitioned to fully remote workforces and sold off office spaces, many industries and types of work require workers to be on-site to perform their duties.
Further, most of those employees who can work remotely prefer to go to an office a couple of days a week. A Future of Business and Tech article reported, “According to recent JLL research, 74% of respondents still want to have access to the office to collaborate, problem-solve, and socialize. It seems months of isolation have cast a new light on the value of in-person, human engagement and the way the office can foster connection, community, and collective experience.”
So how can businesses effectively ensure the health and safety of their employees as they re-enter the workplace? The article recommended the following tactics:
- Adjust physical environments to support social distancing. In an “open” office environment, this might mean spacing workstations at least six feet apart (which may mean having fewer workstations) and installing clear plexiglass barriers, as needed.
- Provide alternatives to high-touch, shared-use items (such as offering bottled water instead of having water fountains or common water coolers.)
- Make the most signage throughout facilities to clearly communicate health and safety practices, such as social distancing, handwashing, and mask-wearing.
- Prevent crowding and congregating by adjusting employee schedules to manage the number of people working in offices on the same days/times.
- Implement visible and frequent cleaning and sanitization procedures, make PPE and other cleaning supplies available to staff, and assess/improve office ventilation.
In addition, edge mitigation — the ability to prevent potentially ill people from entering a workplace – is more critical than ever for businesses. By implementing automated temperature screening kiosks, such as DeCurtis Shield™, at all entrance points to your work environment, you can create a protective perimeter that reduces the risk of an outbreak on your premises.