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The Return to Office: Creating a Safe Environment

The global health pandemic has created many uncertainties, including what the future of the workplace looks like. For those employees who have had flexibility to continue working away from the main office environment, the prospect of now making a full-time return is now rather daunting. Office safety is high on most peoples priority list.

A YouGov poll found that 34% of office workers are concerned about getting used to the office again once they return, meaning employers have a very real responsibility to make this transition as safe and reassuring as possible.

person in blue gloves cleaning officelaptop computer

5 Key Areas to A Safe Work Environment

Here’s our top five areas to focus on:

1. Focus on Effective and Visible Cleaning Routines

As well as increasing the frequency of regular office cleaning to ensure that high-footfall areas are properly cleaned and sanitised, it’s also worth thinking about what deep cleaning might be needed to ensure the environment is as hygienic as it can be. 

Disinfectant misting, or fogging, is a well-tested and highly effective method to ensure that every inch of space in a given area is properly disinfected.  A specialist piece of equipment is used to spray a fine, dry mist (Ionised Hydrogen Peroxide) that kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. It’s safe, quick and doesn’t leave any residue.

Given the airborne nature of many germs and viruses, it’s also important to make sure air ducts and properly cleaned on a regular schedule to maintain a high-quality airflow.  As many offices don’t have windows that allow a flow of fresh air, your employees will expect the air around them to be as clean as it can be.

social distancing office safety

2. Check Your Office Layout – Make it Safe

Social distancing is now a very well understood concept and as the volume of people returning to a workspace increases, so too will the pressure to provide enough space for everyone to work safely.  From meeting rooms to open-plan space, reception areas to shared facilities, it’s important to review the office footprint and how employees flow through and utilise the space to make sure there’s enough space to do so comfortably. 

return to work cleaning station person holding white plastic pump santizing bottle

3. Create Sanitising Stations and Create Safe Offices

Personal hygiene has never been more in focus, with society as a whole recognising the continued importance of not just thorough handwashing but also sanitising to help fight germs.  It’s important to ensure employees have easy access to the products they need to keep themselves and their workspace clean, including hand sanitiser and surface disinfectant.  Well-placed sanitising stations throughout your office space containing all of these products are a great option and will provide reassurance that you take employee safety seriously.

4. Use Protective Screens

For those in open-plan office spaces, it may add additional comfort to your employees to have clear Perspex screens between desks, especially if limits in space mean desks cannot be further spread out.  These screens are easy to install, still look professional and add an extra layer of protection for your teams.

woman in gray crew neck t-shirt holding clear drinking glass

5. Review Your Ways of Working

From limiting hot desking to staggering working hours, there are a number of ways that small changes can be made to ensure employees have confidence in their workplace.  If space is limited and fixed desks are not an option, think about lockers or other safe spaces that ensure working space can be tidied up at the end of the day to allow for proper cleaning.

Flexibility in the Safe Return to the Office

Given the unpredictability of the health pandemic and changes to workplace flexibility, it’s hard to plan with any certainty when a full return to office will happen.  But when it does, it pays to have a strategy in place to make it as easy as possible for employees to transition back.   

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