How Office Settings Will Differ Post Covid
What a Post-COVID Office Setting may look like
As people get vaccinated and COVID-19 rates are dropping in many places, workplaces are gradually reopening. At the same time, we are a long way from returning to normal. Depending on location, size, and industry, every business must be careful about maintaining a safe environment for employees. Let’s look at what this new world will look like in several major industries.
The pandemic has placed extra pressure on the healthcare industry. In addition to treating and testing people with COVID-19 related issues, they have had to stay open and provide care to patients with all other types of health issues. Because medical offices serve people with health issues, guidelines may be stricter than for different businesses.
- Keep accurate records. Medical practices need to track staff-patient contact in case someone develops symptoms of COVID-19. You want to be able to inform anyone who may have come into contact with an infected patient.
- Patients who have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 should inform the office to arrange a safer environment for treatment. You can, for example, suggest a hospital that is set up to treat COVID-19.
- Maintain social distancing in the office. For example, stagger appointments so waiting rooms aren’t crowded. Similarly, make sure that patients moving from one room to another don’t come into close contact with other patients.
- Protect employees. Healthcare personnel should not come to work if they have any possible COVID-19 symptoms.
- Masks help reduce the risk of infection, even if current laws and guidelines no longer require wearing them.
Both individuals and businesses increasingly rely on IT professionals to help them with technological issues. In addition, many IT tasks, both between employees and between employees and clients, can be handled online. For this reason, IT professionals operated many of these services remotely throughout the pandemic. As more offices open up, however, it’s essential to keep safety guidelines in effect.
- Remind employees who are sick to stay home. People who aren’t seriously ill may be able to continue working remotely. The same is true for employees who have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- Daily health check-ins, such as temperature checks, help to keep the workplace safe.
- Maintain social distancing. You may need to rearrange the office. Another option is to allow a certain percentage of the workforce to work from home on certain days.
- Educate employees on the importance of getting tested. You may also require vaccinations for employees who work in the office. Provide guidelines posted around the workplace and in emails and social media posts on where people can get tested and vaccinated nearby.
Office workers of all types, including customer service, data entry, sales, personal assistants, and others, were also affected by the pandemic. Many Office workers worked virtually for the past year. Another type of office space popular in recent years is co-working spaces used by entrepreneurs, freelancers, and creative types. Employees returning to work in physical offices need to follow specific guidelines.
- Observe enhanced cleaning procedures for all workspaces. If you use a cleaning service, make sure they understand the correct practices for cleaning and disinfecting.
- Be sure that your office has enough space to allow for social distancing. Employees (and customers, if it’s a business that deals directly with the public) should always have at least 6 feet of space.
- Anyone ill should stay home and visit a doctor or medical center to get their symptoms diagnosed.
- Frequently wipe down and disinfect surfaces, including door handles, light switches, desks, and often touched machines.
Hospitality includes restaurants, hotels, resorts, bars, theme parks, and other businesses that cater to leisure and business travelers. The entire industry has been dramatically affected by the pandemic. Businesses, such as restaurants, were forced to change their modes of operation by only serving via curbside pickup or delivery. As restrictions are changing, companies in this sector must be careful about keeping employees and customers safe.
- For hotels and other businesses that have international customers, stay current on guidelines. For example, you may need to restrict guests from areas with high COVID-19 cases.
- Limit the number of guests in your facility at one time. Restaurants, bars, and hotels may be opening to the public, but you still want to ensure that public areas are not overcrowded.
- For restaurants, ensure sufficient space between tables.
- Provide hand sanitizer throughout facilities for both employees and guests.
- Practice enhanced cleaning for shared spaces such as lobbies, restrooms, and elevators.
- Hotels should consider contactless check-in. Restaurants can similarly offer contactless ordering and paying.
- Remind guests of hotels, resorts, and other large facilities to dispose of masks properly.
Open Your Business With Care
We can be cautiously optimistic about the future. However, the end is far from certain. COVID-19 rates are better in some areas than others. There are also concerns about new varieties of the virus. Even though we want everything to return to normal, restrictions and policies aren’t the same everywhere. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind as you prepare to reopen your office or other business.
- Stay current on CDC and other guidelines. New information comes out constantly, so it’s important to know what’s going on at all times.
- Share and post (both in-person and online) information on issues such as safety guidelines with employees. Not everyone keeps up with the latest news information about testing, wearing masks, vaccinations, and other policies.
- Offer flexible working hours. Allowing people to work remotely or flexible hours, even when not mandated, helps keep everyone safer.
- Respect the concerns of individual employees. Recognize that people have differing levels of stress as well as risk factors for COVID-19. For example, some employees may prefer to wear a mask or practice social distancing beyond current requirements.