Protecting Against COVID-19: Back-to-Work Edition

By: - October 6, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives temporarily, and in other cases has permanently altered our day-to-day lives. In fact, one of the top problems is the unemployment crisis right now, where the rates were last reported to be at 14.7% in the United States. The danger of working in an office space led to many trading in their business casual attire for a comfortable pair of pajamas. More than half of all employees in America still work from home because of the pandemic. With many states reopening now and moving into different phases the question is: When will we be returning to work? This question has a variety of concerns behind it including wearing masks, revamping the office space to follow social distancing guidelines, and how many people can return at a time. I think many organizations are on the cusp of returning to work, so what practices can we follow to ensure safety?

5 Tips to Protect Yourself and Others

1. Sanitize. Sanitize. Sanitize.

  • Washing your hands frequently throughout the day kills the bacteria on your hands. So wash up after you are in a public place, bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. The CDC strongly urges you to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • If you don’t have access to washing your hands, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in it.

  • Use disinfectant wipes on a keyboard, mouse, desk space, pens, phones, laptop, etc. at the beginning of the day and end of the day.

  • Change out of your clothing as soon as you get home.

2. Wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

  • Masks are now a normal part of our lives. Pack an extra mask for work and if you are in an open office area, keep your mask on all day. Many offices enforce wearing masks all day. This will protect you against any droplets, which is the way that COVID-19 spreads.

  • Wear gloves if you are working with the public, or based on your comfort needs.

  • If you wear contacts, consider glasses as an alternative, for an extra barrier.

 

3. Hold Virtual Meetings

  • Luckily, in the midst of a major digital age, one of our best forms of “getting together” these days is utilizing video apps. Meetings typically require large gatherings, but with social distancing guidelines, it is not sensible to meet physically.

  • Suggest Zoom, Skype, or Facetime meetings to your employees or co-workers instead of meeting in person.

 

4. Stay Home If You Are Sick

 

  • It is advised that you stay home if you feel sick, and are only allowed to come back 24 hours after the fever is broken.

  • Call your healthcare provider, answer questions about your risk, follow the instructions they give you, and practice hygiene and respiratory practices (sneezing/coughing in the elbow, cleaning surfaces, etc.)

 

 

5. Avoid Close Contact with People

  • Social distancing guidelines say:

    • Stay 6 feet apart from other people

    • Do not gather in large groups

    • Stay out of crowded areas and avoid mass gatherings

  • Enforce space between desks by laying out a new floor plan.

  • Physical barriers separate those spaces as well.

  • Break rooms should be managed, or planned so that there are not many people all in at once.

 

It’s odd to think that this is the new normal, but wonderful opportunities have come out of the pandemic! Working from home is possible with many jobs, and it could end up permanently changing the work environment as we know it. Yet as employees return to work, keep in mind that the pandemic is not over yet and precautions still need to be in place to prevent the spread.

 

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