Reopening Your Office? Take Steps to Stop the Spread of COVID-19
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic this past March, many offices around Connecticut have completely closed down and moved to remote operations to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
If your office is now making the move back to in-building operations, even for only a few days a week, you should plan to take steps to proactively prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Here, we will review what you should do to keep your office open, safe, and healthy according to CDC guidelines.
Know The Difference in Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting
These terms have been used quite interchangeably throughout the pandemic, but to properly prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should know the difference between the three.
- Cleaning removes germs, dirt, dust, and impurities from surfaces or objects.
- Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements according to the EPA. A surface must be cleaned before it is sanitized, and sanitizing does not impact viruses.
- Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Like sanitizing, disinfecting is not completely effective without cleaning the surface or object first.
Maintain Healthy Office Environments
1 | Perform routine cleaning & disinfection of high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, sink handles, light switches, desks, countertops, and more,. Create a schedule with your janitorial staff or a disinfecting company to ensure your office is properly disinfected on a continual basis.
2 | Use hospital grade disinfectants that meet the EPA disinfection criteria and are appropriate for the type of surface. Disinfecting of porous vs. non-porous surfaces differs.
3 | Address your office ventilation system. According to the CDC, business owners should do all they can to increase circulation of outdoor air inside. Some businesses have invested in special Hepa filters for their HVAC system to help prevent airborne microbes from circulating in the air.
4 | Change the layout of the office to be in line with social distancing guidelines. Position cubicles or desks 6 feet apart and install physical barriers where social distancing is not as easy.
Promote Behaviors To Stop The Spread
On top of properly cleaning and disinfecting your office on a continual basis, you should promote behaviors that help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This will help ensure that your employees stay healthy and feel secure at work.
- Hand hygiene. Require that employees frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The best way to ensure this would be to create a schedule to wash hands after a certain time period.
- Enforce mask wearing. Encourage office staff to wear masks as they navigate the office or in communal areas.
- Ensure adequate supplies. Position hand sanitizer in high touchpoint areas to encourage using it, or give some to every employee to keep at their desks. Be sure to be stocked with hand soap and disinfectant wipes.
- Post signs and messages. If you have requirements for mask wearing, hand washing, or how to navigate through the office, clearly post them. Put up posters that encourage behaviors to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Make it clear when employees should stay home. Encourage employees that are sick or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 to stay home, and create policies around when employees are able to return.
- Promote no-contact operations. If you have an office where clients used to visit, try to shift to no-contact operations with those outside of your office. Promote zoom or conference call meetings with clients, and discourage those who do not work in the office from coming inside.
- Allow employees to work from home. Although your office may be open, it is best to still limit the amount of people working from it at a time. If employees are uncomfortable returning to the office, allow them to continue working remotely. For larger offices, it is a good idea to create a remote vs. in-office schedule with your employees to limit the amount of people in the office at once.
Following proper CDC and local guidelines throughout the pandemic is essential to keep offices safe, healthy, and open.
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