In case you are interested in other office-related content that tackles the effect of the pandemic, we suggest you check out our COVID19 Learning Hub.
With businesses and organizations all over the world adapting to COVID-19 restrictions, it is important to develop and implement a clear social distancing policy in the office. Understanding the dynamics of social distancing will enable you to offer the highest level of protection to office staff.
The current pandemic has taught us that many people don’t need an office to do their work. For staff members that do need to remain on-site, social distancing will be key to ensuring a safe working environment.
What Does Social Distancing Mean For Office Spaces?
The transition from the traditional office environment entails reducing staff capacity to accommodate for changes. In addition, you will need to rearrange workstations and limit the number of people allowed into your office. This will help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Business owners and office managers will take on added responsibilities. They need to act as public-health representatives who will ensure constant surveillance of the work environment. So, they can better identify and mitigate the risk of transmission.
In light of this, all offices must be equipped with masks, hand sanitizers, relevant personal protective equipment, and provision for handwashing. Doing so will maintain a safe environment for onsite staff.
Social distancing interventions discreetly offer protection to staff without interfering with the operation of the business. These include subtle changes to the office design and slight variations of office protocols. Things like mobile access control can help promote safety and limit transmission.
How To Respect Social Distancing Policy
Adapt Social Behavior
Social behavior at the office will have to change. This begins with limiting physical contact amongst staff and visitors. This would involve greeting and interacting without physical contact.
A six-feet rule should be implemented where no two people are within 6 feet of each other at any given time. Additionally, only authorized staff should occupy office space.
Rotate Staff Schedules
Office managers will need to limit the number of employees at the office at any given time to accommodate for social distancing. This would involve encouraging flexible work times or a reduction in work hours.
Additionally, they must consider the option of rotational or staggered shift patterns. This will help ensure that the essential staff is adequately represented at any time to perform critical tasks.
Reconfigure Workplace Design
It is essential to reconfigure infrastructure at the workplace to promote social distancing. The traditional office structure would have employees working in close proximity to each other. But, the post-pandemic workplace encourages safe working distances amongst colleagues.
Office managers may consider implementing an alternate workstation rule. Employees should use alternate desk space in an environment with a fixed infrastructure. You can modify this with revised seating arrangements in a case where you can move workstations around. Both of these methods will ease congestion and limit the contact that staff members have with each other.
With an open-plan office, it is highly recommended to install some means of separation. Offices should consider inserting partitions or dividers or raise cubicle heights. These barriers are extremely effective in reducing the spread of infection via coughing or sneezing.
Encourage Staff Collaboration
Business owners and office managers must motivate staff to collaborate and pool their talent. This will help streamline work processes and reduce the number of essential staff onsite.
Encourage staff to multi-task or rotate tasks in a coordinated manner that reduces staff capacity at work.
Additionally, with the many communication platforms available today, you can host meetings online. If possible, equip all necessary staff with laptops or other devices to help promote virtual meetings. This would provide a safe platform to discuss important work matters while upholding social distancing policy.
The Bottom Line
It may take some time for businesses and organizations to get used to social distancing protocols. But, the social distancing policy in the office will become an essential part of the workplace.
Having the necessary safety precautions in place will not only protect everybody at the office but also will streamline operations and promote efficiency. This can only be a good thing.