Reopening your offices after COVID-19 is not going to be easy. Employees may be uneasy about the idea, managers may be uneasy too, and your legal team may be in total panic. But in addition to scheduling logistics and preserving the commitment, productivity and general mental health of the people working in it, physical changes will need to be made to your office space in a post COVID-19 world as well.
Before you return to the office, you should follow the COVID-19 reopening office guidelines outlined by the CDC and your local health authorities. But here’s a condensed look at some of the most important considerations:
- Initial, but reputable studies have shown that the coronavirus doesn’t spread as easily in outdoor areas, or spaces with good ventilation. Prior to returning to the office, consider installing high-efficiency air filters and better HVAC or ventilation systems to reduce the viral load in workplace interiors. Need help? Call in an HVAC expert to assist you in making the right decisions according to your workspace size and layout as well as staff size.
- Identify where and how coronavirus could be transmitted at your workplace. Consider all the high-traffic areas and touch points of your facility: door handles, light switches, elevator buttons, lobbies, bathrooms, break rooms, and shared offices. Then make a plan to mitigate risk in those areas with additional cleaning and disinfection, both prior to reopening the office and as a new normal routine.
- Update your door access control methods to a hands-free option. Offering motion-detection features for its readers, a Bluetooth-based system eliminates extra touch points at high-traffic access areas like lobbies, elevators and entryways. You can take your safety protocols a step further and integrate such a system with automatic door openers, which allow employees to enter and exit without touching a door handle.
- Install antimicrobial hardware throughout your facility. Door handles, push/pull locks, emergency exit devices and more are now available with a silver ion coating that can help slow the spread of bacteria and viruses.
- Switch to mobile credentials and cloud-based security systems to eliminate the need for keycards and physical badges. Not only are keycards, fobs and RFID badges prone to misuse and misplacement, they require the user to touch them in order to enter a building, not to mention guest passes are often a shared credential.
- With mobile credentials, the user just needs their smartphone to enter (which they’re less likely to lend to coworkers, or forget at home). Security and convenience are not mutually exclusive with a cloud-based system; 24/7 remote management is perfect for accommodating work-from-home schedules, but still allowing employees, deliveries, and maintenance to access the building when nobody is there.
- Invest in more automated and voice-activated technology. Being able to manage daily operations from a personal device can eliminate common touch points throughout the workspace.
Office Safety and Sanitation After COVID-19
As we start to go back to work after coronavirus, there are additional safety protocol measures your business can take to continue to provide a safer work environment for your employees.
- In addition to regular cleaning with soap and water, you should implement these COVID-19 reopening maintenance procedures to ensure the health and safety of your entire team.
- Schedule daily cleaning and disinfection to all high-touch surfaces in your office, such as door handles, desks, phones, light switches, and faucets, should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.
- Make sure you are using an EPA-approved disinfectant for coronavirus, and following all necessary dilution and protection practices according to the label.
- Increase the frequency of routine deep cleanings, with a focus on high-touch surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs. Provide your employees with the supplies they need to keep their personal workspaces clean and make sure that they are using them!
- Increase your security measures. Traditional security systems may not be well-equipped for a post-coronavirus office environment. Now more than ever, you should be aware of who is coming and going from your facility, be able to track that data in real-time, and react swiftly in case of an emergency.
- With remote work and staggered shifts likely to continue, make sure your security system offers cloud-based access so you can easily control access to your facility remotely and offer better security for your employees.