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Get Me Back to the Office: A Guide on Safely Reopening The Workplace

Government officials across the country have decided to re-open their economies by allowing certain businesses and industries to operate in phases and under strict health guidelines. While health officials and local governments work to safely re-open the country, we all must do our part.

Many companies have already begun implementing changes to their work environment – creating new floor plans, adapting employee schedules, creating remote opportunities, and even innovating the way they sell their products and services. 

For business owners, this is an opportunity to galvanize their approach to security and the safety of their people, property and assets. In the coming months, there will be a sharp focus on creating and implementing better health and safety standards. We share our top considerations and best practices for reopening your business in the current era.

STEP ONE: Safety Planning and Preparation

Before we can even begin to think about things like visitor management software, or remote lockdown capabilities, we must begin with a thorough plan. A rigorous emergency preparedness, or safety plan, takes into account as many variables, scenarios and potential outcomes in order to be concise in times of distress. The key here is to create a safety plan that you hope to never enact, but glad is there if ever needed. Below are a few things to consider when creating your revitalized safety and security plan:

  • Audit your current physical environment. Take note of weak points, inefficiencies or potential renovations. Ask a professional, while they may not be able to do a physical inspection, they may be able to walk you through one. 
  • Update existing policies that have been impacted. The main ones to reconsider are travel, leave of absence and opportunities for remote work. For some industries, changing these policies may be difficult – but now is the time to be flexible and ready to innovate. 
  • Incorporate up-to-date official health guidelines. Create a plan that has a go-to strategy for dealing with contagious and infectious diseases. Along with following guidelines from global health organizations, like the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control, a great safety-plan will help identify symptoms and outline protocol for isolating healthy staff from unsafe exposure. 

STEP TWO: Sanitize and Organize

Once a proper safety plan is in place, the very next step is to prepare the environment for reopening. This is the optimal time to follow through with floor plan restructuring or implementing any renovations. In this step, the focus is on maximizing safety and minimizing error – especially concerning the areas most occupied.

  • Keep the work environment stocked. The essential items to always keep stocked and easily accessible are those regarding health and safety: hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap and wipes, disinfecting cleaner, gloves, and masks. Maintain a proper management of this inventory by keeping it accessible, organized and plentiful. 
  • Coordinate with building managers and staff. Collaborate with those who directly manage the daily operations of your building. Help ensure the regular sanitization and cleaning of common use areas such as bathrooms, elevators, lobbies, and garages. Develop new modes of operating high traffic areas like room/elevator capacities, or restrict walking areas to ensure social distancing. Cloud access control solutions can help monitor and control traffic flow.
  • Become a master of sanitization. These aren’t just habits to adopt for the current times, they will prove to be essential for years to come. The first step to mastering anything comes with teaching. Learn the proper sanitation practices and teach others to maintain a healthy environment for themselves, their colleagues and their patrons. 

STEP THREE: Social Distancing for the Professional Setting

Once you have a well-equipped, organized, and thoroughly sanitized workplace – backed with a thorough and rigorous safety-plan, you’re one step closer to reopening. The top health officials across the globe all agree that social distancing is a crucial practice in managing the spread of infectious disease. While being completely isolated is impossible, giving the proper care and awareness to oneself and others is necessary. Social distancing is still a new concept for much of the world and the answers aren’t always clear. Each situation is unique and will call for unique and creative solutions to critical challenges.

  • Invest in the tools and capabilities to work remotely. Many companies have already considered remote work for existing positions. Some companies, like Twitter, have already implemented company-wide remote work options with CEO Jack Dorsey announcing that employees are free to work from home through the rest of the year.Remote technology solutions like Google Suite, Zoom, Slack, Asana, are all being widely implemented in an effort to innovate existing business practices. 
  • Minimize gatherings and group congregations. With those solutions briefly mentioned above, groups and teams are able to continue having regular meetings while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Refresh employee guidelines and handbooks to reflect greater adheration to social distancing by standardizing electronic meetings, reducing interaction of shared equipment and placing capacity limits for small areas or rooms. 
  • Encourage honest feedback and prioritize compromise. It is best to keep in mind that everyone is collectively bracing for change and that brings unique and valid concerns that must be properly addressed. Allow for newly implemented policies and protocols to be adaptable to the feedback received from those impacted – accommodating the safety of everyone. This new era of health and safety must be met with collective collaboration and cooperation. 

STEP FOUR: Stay Tuned

Tune into what’s going on in your state, community and even household. Everyone is in this together – we are all affected in some way. Navigating these times will require a great deal of patience, compassion, perseverance and seriousness about the health and safety of others – we can do our part by being aware and monitoring developments in current regional and local events. 

In the coming months, it will be vital to stay tuned to trusted medical professionals, health organizations and our local leaders. For the most up to date information visit the official links below:

CDC-https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

WHOhttps://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Health and Human Services-https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/index.html

Interested in seeing how the nation reacts to re-opening efforts? Check out our live-map showing changes in commercial real estate activity on a state by state level – updated daily. 

Keep your employees safe following these guidelines.