How companies organize the return to the office

In order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, large parts of public life have been shut down in recent weeks. Economic life has also undergone serious changes, with many companies moving their activities to home offices. In order to limit the impact on the economy, the first easing measures will take effect from 04.05.2020, with employees returning to their offices in many companies. However, there is still no sign of a return to normality, as the aim is still to keep the number of infected people under control.

We therefore took a look at what employees should consider when returning to the office and how companies can equip their offices to meet the changing requirements.

1. supervisor behavior

Management staff have a special duty of care in the current situation. On the one hand, they must ensure that employees are aware of current developments and conditions at all times and comply with the applicable requirements, particularly with regard to hygiene. In addition, the company management must ensure that the offices are equipped in such a way that the measures can be implemented at all times.

Many of our colleagues are keen to get back to the office. Over the past few days, we have therefore extensively restructured our offices in Berlin to meet all hygiene requirements. This means our employees can return to the office safely.
Julius Bolz
Co-Founder Lendis

Here are some tips for people in management positions on how to deal with the current situation:

  1. Regularly remind your employees of the hygiene standards and ensure that they are adhered to.
  2. Also make sure that all managers and team leaders are aware of the typical symptoms of COVID-19 and can initiate appropriate measures in the event of a potentially ill employee.
  3. Cleaning offices and work areas is particularly important these days. Make sure that regular cleaning takes place and that frequently touched objects and surfaces are also disinfected.
  4. The introduction of a shift system - where possible - helps to ensure that as few employees as possible are in the office at the same time.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 away from the workplace for as long as possible.

2. rules of conduct in the office

Comply with hygiene rules

Even if hygiene standards should already be observed in everyday office life, this is even more important at the moment. Hands should be washed regularly and thoroughly with warm water and soap. Avoid touching surfaces and objects unnecessarily and disinfect your hands regularly. It goes without saying that you should not cough or sneeze in the direction of other people, but into the crook of your arm.

Mandatory face mask

Wearing a face mask is now mandatory in many public places. This already applies to commuting to work on public transport. However, it is also advisable to wear a face mask in the office to protect yourself and, above all, your colleagues.

Return to the office rules of conduct

Social distancing

The term social distancing has become a defining term for the current situation. Keeping a sufficient distance from other people significantly reduces the risk of infection. Even if it is much more difficult in the office, sufficient distance should be maintained from other people whenever possible. The following basic rules apply:

  • Avoid physical meetings. A large number of people in a confined space over a long period of time is not a good idea at the moment. Use digital tools such as Slack or Zoom instead.
  • The same applies to lengthy 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.

Watch out for symptoms

It is still important to contain the spread of the virus. Therefore, look out for typical symptoms in yourself and others (further information can be found on the websites of the Robert Koch Institute and the World Health Organization WHO). People who show these symptoms should leave the office immediately and get tested for possible infection.

If an employee falls ill, it is helpful and important to identify people who have been 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

Return to the office - desk partitions

In order to be able to comply with all of the above rules of conduct, companies must ensure that their offices are equipped accordingly and, if necessary, restructured.

As the management, you are responsible for ensuring that your employees can comply with the hygiene rules mentioned. Place hand sanitizers (disinfectant dispensers are suitable for this), handkerchiefs and foot-operated waste garbage cans in different places in the office. Stations for disinfecting mobile devices also help to limit the spread of viruses.

Check your office and the arrangement of desks, cupboards or other office furniture to see whether groups can form quickly. This is often the case in reception areas or at meeting points. Remove any obstacles so that your employees can get to their workstation quickly. For example, provide additional wardrobes and storage space so that employees can store personal items such as jackets or bags directly at their workstation.

To improve hygiene at the workplace, you can separate individual work areas from each other using desk partitions. The use of (desk) partitions is suitable for team workstations, for example. These not only improve hygiene, but also the acoustics at the workstation. Instead of classic textile partitions, we recommend using plastic partitions. Viruses adhere less well to the smooth surfaces and cleaning is also significantly better and easier, thus meeting the increased hygiene requirements.

Partition walls can also be used to structure the office space according to requirements. Position the room dividers so 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 one another and thus avoid cross-departmental contact.

Last but not least, telephone boxes are an additional way of structuring the space. The telephone boxes are equipped with all the necessary connections, have independent ventilation and enable undisturbed, focused and contactless working.
Due to the limited travel options, there is also an additional need for retreats in the office that allow undisturbed conversations with customers and partners. The sound-absorbing telephone booths offer zones of complete peace and quiet for this purpose.

Return to the office - Telephone boxes

Lendis can help you prepare your office for the return of your employees. Our products can be rented flexibly for the still indefinite period of the corona crisis. At the end of the rental period, you can easily return the office equipment. In addition, Lendis can support you with office planning and prepare your office space for the increased hygiene and social distancing requirements.

Contact us at any time.
Together we will find the right solutions for your company.