With the coronavirus first hitting New York City, members of the Metropolitan Executive Alliance, a cultivated group of New York’s top business leaders of which Digiscribe is a member, came together to find long-term business solutions for companies trying to grapple with how to operate in this “new norm.” The thought leaders within this group put together some guidelines and ideas on how to improve the safety within offices across our country. Striving for long-term business continuity, here are some tips on how to make every part of your office safer:
1. Make it convenient to improve office safety
Officeworks has a couple of suggestions to decrease surface-based contamination. First, make it easy for staff to kill any germs that may have already entered the office. Include pedal-activated or motion sensor hand sanitizer stations at the entrance of the office and conveniently placed throughout.
When people enter the office, have an advanced thermal, body-temperature reading system to check people’s temperatures. This system isn’t foolproof so also make sure mask-wearing is mandatory at all times.
2. Reduce high volume activity surfaces
Remove shared contact areas where the virus could easily spread. The interior design studio MKDA suggests incorporating “touchless” features into your workplace. For example, all doors should be motion sensored or propped open to avoid everyone touching the same doorknobs to access or move around the building.
For those areas that can’t be avoided, MKDA recommends antimicrobial materials be applied. For instance, copper reduces the growth of mold and mildew, killing off microbes within hours instead of days. New technology incorporates and other materials that can be applied to surfaces to reduce the risk of contamination.
3. Manage movement around the office
Make it easy for employees to stay six feet apart while moving about during the day. Place stickers six feet apart on the ground reminding employees of the importance of maintaining their space. Arrows can also direct traffic around the office to minimize staff having to pass each other in tight corridors.
4. Protect employees at their workspaces
Since this is where your staff will spend most of their time, it’s critical to make this area as safe as possible. The growing popularity of open floor plans over the past decade unfortunately means significant changes are needed to return to a more separated design. CitiQuiet suggests desk areas be at a minimum six feet long per employee and screen shields or dividers be installed between these workspaces. As each employee requires more space to meet social distancing guidelines, here are some more tips on how to maximize your office space to get the most of your current square footage.
5. Lower the capacity of your meeting rooms
Instead of packing people in, only meet in person when necessary. Chairs should be placed six feet apart and tape should be put on the floor or tables to help employees see how they can maintain six feet distance from one another. For other employees on the call, have them join in via phone or video teleconferencing from their desks or remote locations.
6. Outsource your mailroom
Mail carriers, mailroom staff, and other employees all touch each piece of mail that enters your office. To reduce this risk, consider outsourcing your mailroom. By delivering documents offsite, they can be digitized and shared hands-free through cloud software to both your in-office and remote workers. If outsourced, you can also repurpose the mailroom space into deskspace to meet social distancing guidelines.
7. Minimize contact with shared documents
File cabinets can collect dangerous particles of COVID-19 and become hotbeds where it can spread. Instead of having your employees physically handle these business critical documents, they can be sent to an offsite location, scanned, and shared within the cloud. No longer do your employees have to be within the office rummaging through cabinets, but instead can access their digital files within the cloud from anywhere within seconds. For your employees sharing documents within the office, going paperless can also reduce the risk of infection.
Many companies have also leveraged business process outsourcing and remote work to minimize the number of employees they need in the office. As you go through the business continuity planning process, make sure to also check out our white paper, Ensure Business Continuity Post COVID-19 with BPO, including a checklist of everything you should consider to make your business more competitive in the current market landscape.