The pandemic has created a number of challenges, especially for the businesses that are looking to reopen. And as businesses begin to reopen, organizations will have to figure out how to best manage office utilization in a way to ensure that their employees have a safe working environment. In the face of this new challenge, the great first step is having the right information, metrics, and data in hand to make better decisions for redesigning the workplace.
The responsibility of ‘flattening the curve’ doesn’t just end by the government taking responsible decisions and communities coming together. Now, after this precautionary phase of lockdown has ended and employees are returning back to work, organizations will have to be prepared for the ‘new reality.’ Therefore, employers, property owners, and facility managers must be ready to adapt to this new mindset. As the communities emerge from quarantine, it’s very likely that the residual fear of workplace health and safety will linger. In the post-pandemic workplace, we’ll be acutely aware of the risks associated with surfaces we carelessly touch and the people we interact with after this prolonged period of physical distancing. The post-pandemic world will strengthen and intensify the connection between the physical environment and wellness more than ever before.
While there is definitely a sense of urgency to get the business back to normal soon, there are new guidelines and revised practices that must be followed to ensure a safe and healthy environment. Workplaces will be revamped to proactively address the risks of the spread of pathogens and create restorative and healthy workplaces where employees feel comfortable. During these unprecedented times, creative and innovative solutions should be in place to ensure collective safety.
There are multiple factors to assess before reopening the business. Every operational aspect must be planned considering the health and safety of your employees as well as the visitors. To start with, create a risk assessment plan to eliminate or control the risks that pose to the health and well-being of everyone. Ensure that you’re aware of the latest health and safety guidelines by the government. Train and educate your employees and staff about the new organizational policies and precautionary practices that they need to follow. Ensure that they have all the relevant information related to the pandemic and how to deal with emergency situations.
As people gravitate back to the office, organizations will have to rethink space management. Identify the areas where employees congregate and reduce your room capacities to maintain physical distancing. Organizations will have to implement facility-wide cleaning and sanitizing protocols, and also will have to collaborate with a third-party auditing company to reassure the employees that their health and well-being is of utmost importance.
In the wake of the pandemic, facilitate a culture of cleanliness. There will the need of some immediate interventions such as –
- Hand sanitizers and sanitary wipes should be provided to all departments, restrooms, and kept inconvenient places.
- All the common touchpoints and cleaning equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- Use of thermal screening at the entry points to monitor the health status.
- Install motion-sensor activated soap dispensers, toilet flushers, paper towel dispensers, and basin taps.
- Place signs in bathrooms reminding staff and customers about the importance of handwashing and attention to hygiene.
- Frequently sanitize the washroom taps, knobs, and fixtures.
- Increase the frequency of waste collection and disposal.
Organizations will also have to reevaluate the air-filtration systems and redesign it to increase the amount of outside air and reduce the amount of re-circulated air. Air handling device filters should be changed frequently and use High-efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters to improve air quality.
While organizations will be busy with resuming operations and rebooting activities, they’ll need support through expert analysis and recommendations along with a systematic assessment process to verify their preparedness measures. Hence, Equinox Labs has designed a certification program called a Safe Place to Work that aims to assist organizations who share the same goal of creating and sustaining the culture of safety and hygiene. This is a definitive recognition that leverages the best auditing parameters curated by industry experts to quantify the current safety and hygiene standards of the organization. Based on the compliance level, organizations are audited and awarded with a ‘Safe Place to Work’ certificate, which is recognized nationwide.
This pandemic will eventually pass and how you respond will be remembered for a long time. As decision-makers, you’ll have to adapt and evolve with the current situation and have efficient response plans and its effective implementation in place. Proficient management can deliver improved outcomes.