Simple Steps for Starting Work Place Post Lockdown!
How do you start office post lock down during COVID 19 pandemic? Simple 5 steps to help you think through and keep it effective for you.
Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Organization leaders are concerned and the concern is common across all large and small organisations as to "How do we start our workplace post lockdown?". There are many news article floating around, many videos on Whats App and many brainstorming sessions among Admin and HR teams. This leads to more confusion than clarity. Crest Property offers 5 simple steps to restart the workplace post the COVID 19 lockdown.
Step 1: Social Distancing Strategy Means Re-thinking the Layout
5 days prior to starting work have a work place, have a strategy in place for post COVID 19 work place set up. The central theme is social distancing and how to re-plan work stations, make hot desks and designate large cabins as meeting rooms. Simple ways to identify hot desk is near the main entry of the office section cleared out and make hot desks. This limits the staff that would be coming ad-hoc to enter and avoid using space which is for dedicated employees.
You may decided to assign a housekeeping staff to keep cleaning hot desks as staff clears out their previously assigned desk.
You may also set up simple booking system using Google Calendar for booking hot desk should you are unable to set up enough hot desk. Use Google Calendar link here to understand how https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/44105?hl=en
Don't forget to have 1-2 days dedicated to clearing out all desks which may have personalized belongings like calendar, post its, memorabilia, magnets, god idols, coffee mugs as post COVID 19 desk should be easy to clean and also for the employees to maintain in a hygienic condition. It is essential to set expectations that desk clearance means cleaning all personal belongings including stash of papers, files. Files will be required to go in the departmental storage.
You can avail boxes for staff so that they can keep all their personalized items in a box or sending files in box to the central store house. Insist on removing all papers and having all drawers clear as the desk will be a hot desk going forward.
Identify areas for sanitiser stations. Obvious ones are at the entry of the office or reception. But as you move across you will find you need to keep additional sanitisers outside the washroom as everyone will be touching the same door handle before going to washroom or coming out. Similarly, if you have a canteen or break-out area you may want to keep a sanitiser station just outside the door of these rooms, so that one can use sanitiser coming out of the room using handle and clean the hand again using sanitiser. You will need a sanitiser station near the hot desk area with a tissue roll dispenser. Encourage staff to clean the desk before and after use of the hot desk.
Sanitiser station at work place can be any table or holder for sanitiser bottle. It might be easier to get foot pedal operated sanitiser dispensers should you not have ideal place to keep sanitiser bottles. The advantage of these foot pedal sanitiser dispense station is that they will always keep the bottle in the same space!
You may decide to keep meeting room shut till you find things improving. And if you decide to keep meeting room open for meeting you will need several signages e.g. maximum people permitted, keep 6 feet distance. And you will need signage like "Need Cleaning", "This room is disinfected for your use"
Do remove manual registers as cleaning paper, pen and registers is a difficult task with no guarantee of effective sanitisation. If you are using biometric access control mechanisms using finger print, you may prefer to move to web based or QR code based applications. If you are using proximity cards, you may continue as the card does not necessarily need to touch any surface.
You may want to discourage visitors, guest or personal shipping delivery at office or even food delivery from outside - encourage employees to get their own tiffin as they have already got used to home cooked food.
Step 2: Pre-cleaning for opening Work Place
Three days prior to the office startup, have your housekeeping team do complete cleaning including of large surfaces, personalised surfaces and frequently touched surfaces. Cleaning need to be divided into three parts 1) large surfaces e.g. storage cabinets, tables, glass, carpet, floor etc and 2) personalised surfaces e.g. photo frame, pen stand, coffee mug etc. and 3) frequently touched surfaces e.g. desktops, desk phones, door handles, knobs, grab bars, attendance registration machine. Don't forget to change all bin bags.
If you have already completed step 1 of having strategy in place then on day one when employee arrives to clear out the cluttered desk, having "personalised surfaces" clean will protect your staff. Once staff will be remove these personalised surfaces and take it to their home, you will have lesser issue to deal with as personalised items are difficult to clean and not possible to clean daily
Sanitise the entire office using micro fogger and medical grade disinfectant. This step will cover all remaining surfaces and ensure that the disinfection of the office is complete
Washroom cleaning will be important as there are reported COVID 19 traces in human feces. Washroom cleaning shall be priority during COVID 19 pandemic, this means higher number of frequency and dedicate housekeeping team who is continuously keeping these areas clean.
F&B area or canteen or break out areas as you may refer will require complete cleaning of all cutlery, crockery and all equipment using suitable disinfectants. Don't forget to clean microwave from inside and all quirky buttons of tea/coffee dispensers and its displays.
Step 3: Signage for COVID 19
Arogya Setu App is mandated by the government, reminder for turning on bluetooth before entering and showing Arogya Setu Status to security guard will be required daily.
Signage will help staff remind that not everything is normal and facility is for use with social distancing. You may use 6 feet distance lines on floors before entry of the door. "Use Me" signage for sanitiser. A signage for attendance register using QR Code or web based application, operational hours, reminder for 6 feet of distance and use of mask mandatory. You may want to have clear signage for no personal shipping delivery from Amazon or food delivery from outside, or any guest/visitors till further notice. You may decide to gradually permit the same once you feel confident about office operations and general pandemic situation in your city.
You may have clear signage on wall for "Sanitiser Station" at height of 6 feet visible from distance.
Having sigange for "6 Feet Distance" and "Wear Mask" may be highlighted in general in work area.
Step 4: Setting up F & B Section
You will need to revamp your F&B practice and area completely as people are gong to be closed during lunch hours and coffee breaks. On the table you can have "Mat" like stickers to identify which areas to be used for having lunch or coffee. You need to remove additional chairs form breakout area. Encourage staff to use their lunch box directly in place of using office cutlery and crockery. Put instruction for not washing or cleaning lunch box if previously permitted in canteen or break out areas. Have a dedicated F&B staff prepare beverage serving and tray it up and available in break out area. A well trained F&B staff will make sure tray is not full of cold cups of tea if traffic is less.
If you are allowing to have lunch on work station area, you would want your housekeeping team to be available in work station area to get the tables clean during lunch hours.
Providing lunch timings for department or section also will help you avoid over crowding and people hanging out of the lunch areas.
Step 5: Daily Cleaning
Now that your work place is ready to be used, you will need a routine for staff to coming in and going. Yes, we should not insist on 24 x 7 operations of work place in current scenario as certain cleaning will require entire or part of the office cleared out e.g. vacuuming, sanitation.
If your business requires your office to operate round the clock, you would want to agree on "cleaning hours" between shift lasting 30 - 45 mins. You may want to create housekeeping hours section wise.
Daily cleaning shall include disinfecting all large surfaces as focused areas before or after office hours so that employee can use work space
Frequently touched areas need to be continuously cleaned in a rotation and rhythm visibly available during office operations so that staff gets confident about disinfecting process.
If your budget approves, you may do daily sanitisation using micro fogger but according to us systematically covering frequently touched areas and having daily cleaning process followed will help you make space for your staff without worry. Mirco fogger you may do it as additional measures as part of cleaning process. Micro fogging once a week is advisable during pandemic but not necessary. WHO and Gov of India guidelines are also giving weightage mainly to disinfecting frequently touched spaces
Above views of the author is during COVID 19 pandemic. The same is a guideline which can be revised as per intensity and spread of COVID 19 in your city.
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