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Essential Tips for a Safe Office Environment

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As lockdowns continue to lift and teams get back to business, one of the top priorities on any HR leader’s radar must be creating a safe office environment for the team. Many people have concerns about heading back to the office too soon, and others worry about their safety while they’re in the workplace.

These tips will help you create a safe office environment for your team, improving both safety and peace of mind for everyone.

Enact Social Distancing Measures

In an indoor environment, social distancing is even more important. If your office has many work stations placed side-by-side, you may want to take steps to allow employees to spread out more.

You can consider the installation of physical barriers, such as plexiglass, between workstations. Some offices are reinstalling cubicles, moving back to a more traditional set-up from open plans that have been popular recently.

These barriers help employees stay distanced from each other, while also creating barricades against coughs and sneezes.

You might consider reducing the number of employees in the office at any given time, which will allow the team to spread out among workstations. This can also help improve social distancing. Finally, ask team members to observe social distancing as much as possible while they’re in the office.

Focus on Sanitization and Cleaning

If you already have a team coming in to clean the office, you may want to ask them to come in more frequently. You might also consider asking them to do a more thorough cleaning procedure or to increase sanitizing. In some cases, you may want to hire on a special service for sanitization.

You can also ask your team members to help. Provide hand sanitizer for them, and ask them to wipe down the equipment they use with disinfectant wipes. This could include computer screens, mice, keyboards, telephones, and even the desk surfaces.

Don’t forget about the break room, the kitchen, or meeting spaces either. If employees make use of these spaces, then they should be taking care to sanitize them after use.

Provide PPE

You probably haven’t thought much about offering personal protective equipment for your office crew, but you might want to provide the following for them:

  • Masks
  • Face shields (if-needed)
  • Gloves
  • Hand sanitizer

Don’t forget to encourage increased handwashing as well. Make sure you’ve provided disinfectant soap.

You may not need to supply both masks and face shields, but employees might appreciate the choice. Having masks on hand is a good idea, just in case an employee forgets theirs or isn’t taking care of a reusable one they’re bringing from home.

Think about Air Circulation

The temperature of most office environments is something many people think about (and argue about) a fair amount. In the summertime, air conditioning may keep the office cool, while in the winter, heating keeps everyone’s fingers from freezing.

Most of the time, this means the office is a closed environment. You might never open the windows. Most offices recycle the air inside them, filtering it and recirculating it again and again.

You may want to think about installing HEPA filters or otherwise increasing fresh air intake and reducing recirculation of air in the office. If you can, opening the windows from time to time is a good way to get some fresh air into the environment. This might not be possible for every office, of course.

If you rent your office space, you’ll need to speak to your landlord to discuss the measures you can take to address air circulation.

Review Your Policies

Policies such as social distancing, use of masks in common areas, and asking only so many team members to be in the office at a time can also increase safety. Create a more flexible working environment and support it with good policies for working from home.

In this way, you’ll be able to create a safer office environment for all your team members.

 

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Kaneez Jaffer

Kaneez Jaffer

Kaneez is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) with an advanced knowledge of human resources and organizational structure and design. She has extensive experience with HRIS systems and understands the need to move HR from a transactional model to a transformational one. She has worked in the investment banking, insurance, and legal industries, as well as with large not-for-profit centres helping to simplify and streamline their internal systems. Kaneez is an expert in building relationships and affecting change in a positive and productive way. She acts as the key HR business partner at Apri Insurance Services Inc, managing the implementation of JungoHR, while providing expert advice and counsel on a range of HR matters. Kaneez holds a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management as well as a Certificate in HR Law for HR Professionals from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada.

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