Preparing for a Safe Return to the Office
Now that we have successfully cleared the second step of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, all eyes are on 17 May. Though some indoor businesses such as shops and salons were allowed to reopen in early April, this third step is expected to allow a reintroduction of indoor mingling in small groups and the reopening of other indoor venues such as theatres, restaurants, museums, and more. As a result, many business owners and decision makers are plotting a potential return to the office after over a year spent working at home.
Many organisations have already announced their intentions to adopt hybrid models that allow staff to split their time between working remotely and in the office, but the question is how to encourage staff to return and make them feel comfortable when they are there.
Here are our top tips for preparing your office for a safe and productive return.
Step Up Sanitation
Enhanced cleaning measures are a wise and necessary starting point for making the office a safe space for staff to return to. Provide supplies such as sanitisers and wipes around the office to encourage employees to regularly cleanse their hands, and wipe down shared surfaces and equipment after use. Develop deep cleaning protocols and set standards for the cleanliness of individual workspaces. These small acts can make a big difference in helping to keep everyone healthy.
However, for these protocols and new measures to be effective, they will require active participation from staff. It can be a hassle to keep up with, and it is difficult to ensure that cleaning is being handled thoroughly enough. In many cases, it may be worth investing in a more advanced solution to reduce some of the burden.
Ultraviolet (UVC) light is scientifically proven to quickly, safely and efficiently destroy germs, bacteria, and viruses, including those that cause COVID-19. Kensington has harnessed the power of this technology into its UVStand™ Monitor with UVC Disinfection Compartment. The stand uses UVC LED lights to sanitise keyboards, mice, mobiles, and other devices quickly and efficiently, eliminating up to 99.9% of bacteria in just 10 minutes. The spacious disinfection compartment can fit most full-sized keyboards, and when not in use, it can be used to store other desktop items to reduce clutter and minimise the need for additional cleaning. In January at CES, the world’s most influential technology event, the UVStand was named as a CES® 2021 Innovations Awards Honoree. The product will be available to buy in the UK from the end of May 2021.
Cleaning shared tools helps to minimise the risk of contact transmissions, but reducing touchpoints makes this much easier to stay on top of. Consider upgrading your office equipment to machines that require minimal interaction from users. This might include touch-free staplers, automatic laminators, and auto feed shredders. Rexel’s AutoFeed+ allows users to automatically shred documents in large batches with minimal interaction. The range comes in a variety of sizes and offers both micro and cross cuts that are more secure and take up less space in the bin, thus requiring less frequent emptying. Check out our buying guide to find the shredder that’s right for you.
Prioritise Personal Space
Just as we’ve become comfortable going contactless this year, keeping our distance has also been prioritised. The latest advice strongly encourages that we keep doing so even when vaccinated. Flexible work models make it a bit easier to avoid crowding by reducing the number of staff in the office on a given day, but those who aren’t working remotely should still maintain some space from their colleagues. This can be challenging in smaller offices where there is less room to spread out, or in open-plan environments which became popular pre-pandemic. This may cause concern for some.
Social distancing screens, such as those offered by Nobo, can help put minds at ease by creating separation and providing a contact barrier in close spaces. These screens come in a range of sizes that can either stand alone or on top of the surface of a desk, helping to form individual personal spaces. The Nobo range is available in felt surfaces for added privacy, or transparent acrylic or PVC to maintain the look and feel of an open plan office while providing a layer of protection.
In order for any of these new measures to be successful, they need to be clearly communicated. Displaying signage around the office is a great way to remind staff about what is expected of them and to keep them informed about what measures are being taken for their safety. Laminate these signs to protect them from damage in high traffic areas and to allow for easy wiping down as part of a normal cleaning routine.
The GBC Foton 30 is the perfect machine for the next normal. As the world’s first fully-automated desktop laminator, it requires minimal interaction from the user and takes just four easy steps to get the job done perfectly. The user simply drops the paper into the feeder, presses ‘Run’, walks away to complete other tasks, and returns to a tidy stack of laminated pages which have been trimmed. No more standing around until the job is done. Lamination time is reduced by a staggering 98%. The Foton 30 can tackle up to 30x A4 or A3 documents, which is especially useful when laminated signs are required in volume and at speed.
The idea of returning to work is both exciting and intimidating after a year of lockdown, but with the right tools and preparation, it can go as smoothly and safely as possible. Check with your favourite office products reseller for offers and availability.