How companies organise the return to the office
To contain the spread of the Corona virus, large parts of public life have been shut down in recent weeks. Business life also experienced serious changes, with many companies moving their activities to home offices. In order to limit the impact on the economy, first relaxation measures will take effect from 04.05.2020, in many companies employees will return to their offices. But there is still no sign of a return to normality, because the aim is still to keep the number of infected people under control.
We therefore took a look at what employees should look out for when returning to the office and how companies can equip their office space to meet the changing requirements.
1. supervisor behaviour
Management staff have a special duty of care in the current period. On the one hand, they must ensure that the employees are aware of the current developments and conditions at all times and that they comply with the applicable regulations, especially with regard to hygiene. In addition, the management must ensure that the offices are equipped in such a way that the measures can be implemented at all times.
Below are some tips for people in leadership positions on how to deal with the current situation:
- Regularly remind your employees of the hygiene standards and ensure that they are adhered to.
- Also ensure that all managers and team leaders are aware of the typical symptoms of COVID-19 and can take appropriate action in the event of a potentially ill employee.
- The cleaning of offices and work areas is of particular importance these days. Make sure that regular cleaning takes place and that frequently touched objects and surfaces are additionally disinfected.
- The introduction of a shift system - as far as possible - helps to ensure that as few employees as possible are in the office at the same time.
- Extend the window for meal and break times, allowing people to spread out better and only a few people to be together at the same time.
- Check whether it is possible to stagger the return to the office according to risk groups. Keep older employees, people with pre-existing conditions or pregnant women out of the workplace as long as possible.
2. rules of conduct in the office
Adhere to hygiene rules
Even if compliance with hygiene standards should already be fulfilled as a matter of principle in everyday office life, this applies even more so now. Hands should be washed regularly and thoroughly with warm water and soap. Avoid unnecessary touching of surfaces and objects and disinfect your hands regularly. It goes without saying that you should not cough or sneeze in the direction of your fellow human beings, but rather in the crook of your arm.
Mandatory mouth protection
Many public places are now required to wear a face mask. This already applies to public transport on the way to work. But wearing a mouthguard is also recommended in the office to protect yourself and, above all, your colleagues.
The term social distancing has become a defining one for the current situation. Keeping a sufficient distance from other people significantly reduces the risk of contagion. Even if it is much more difficult in the office, you should keep a sufficient distance from your fellow human beings whenever possible. The following basic rules apply:
- Avoid physical meetings. A large number of people in a confined space for a long period of time is not a good idea at the moment. Instead, use digital tools like Slack or Zoom.
- The same applies to extensive meetings and planning on the whiteboard.
- Even if it may feel strange at first, keep your distance from other colleagues on the way to the kitchen or toilet.
Pay attention to symptoms
It is still important to contain the spread of the virus. Therefore, look out for typical symptoms in yourself and others (further information on this can be found on the pages of the Robert Koch Institute and the World Health Organisation WHO). People who show these symptoms should leave the office immediately and be tested for possible infection.
If an employee is ill, it is helpful and important to identify people who were in contact with them. For example, all meetings and conversations as well as all persons participating in them can be noted in the calendar.
3. equipment of the office
In order to be able to comply with all the above rules of conduct, companies must take care to equip and, if necessary, restructure their offices accordingly.
As the management, you are responsible for ensuring that your employees can comply with the hygiene rules mentioned above. Therefore, place hand disinfectants (disinfection dispensers are suitable for this), handkerchiefs and foot-operated waste bins in different places in the office. Stations for disinfecting mobile equipment also help to limit the spread of viruses.
Check your office and the arrangement of desks, cabinets or other office furniture to see if groups can form quickly. This is often the case in reception areas or at meeting points. Remove all obstacles so that your employees can get to their workplaces quickly. For example, provide additional coat racks and storage space so that employees can store personal items such as jackets or bags directly at the workplace.
To improve hygiene at the workplace, you can separate individual work areas from each other with table partitions. At team workplaces, for example, the use of (table) partitions is suitable. These not only improve hygiene, but also the acoustics at the workplace. Instead of the classic textile-covered partitions, we recommend using partitions made of plastic. Viruses adhere less easily to the smooth surfaces and cleaning is also much better and easier, thus meeting the increased hygiene requirements.
Partitions can also be used to structure office space according to requirements. Place the room dividers in such a way that your employees move along defined paths in the office and thus maintain the minimum distance. Use the partitions to separate networks of people, such as individual teams or departments, from each other and thus avoid cross-departmental contact.
Last but not least, telephone boxes represent an additional option for structuring space. The telephone boxes are equipped with all the necessary connections, have independent ventilation and enable undisturbed, focused and contactless work.
Due to the limited travel possibilities, there is also an additional need for places of retreat in the office that allow undisturbed conversations with customers and partners. The sound-absorbing telephone booths offer zones of complete silence for this purpose.
Lendis can help you prepare your office for the return of your employees. Our products can be rented flexibly for the still undetermined period of the Corona crises. At the end of the rental period, you can easily return the office equipment. In addition, Lendis can support you in office planning and prepare your office space for the increased hygiene and distance requirements.
Together we will find the right solutions for your company.