Since we returned back to work in our office, we have put many different safeguards in place in order to keep ourselves and others healthy. We have been asked by several customers about what extra safety measures we have taken and decided to sum them up in this blog article. We are also curious about what other companies are doing, so if you have anything you want to add/share/criticize, let us know.
Depending on where you work, certain safety measures will be more efficient than others. This checklist is tailored to our specific facility and personal needs (open space offices for around 30 employees). Different or stricter measures might be necessary for other companies.
1. Be Healthy
Unsurprisingly, the most important rule in our back to work policy is that employees alert their managers and stay home if they feel sick and show COVID symptoms – even a light cough is enough at this point. The same goes for employees that have either had COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who tested positive.
2. Stay Safe
Needless to say, general safety measures like keeping a 1.5 metres distance, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and wearing masks where necessary are part of our back to work policy. Since we have open space offices, we only allow one employee per room at a time. If more employees have to work in the same room, the general safety measures (distance and/or mask) are applied at all times. We had a staggered reopening, most of our employees are actually still encouraged to work from home, especially those with kids. Working at the office is optional and only allowed under the given circumstances.
3. Cleanliness is Key
We have doubled our cleaning duties and pay special attention to door handles and surfaces. Especially after meetings, we take extra time to clean and disinfect tables and other surfaces thoroughly. On top of that, we air the office at least three times a day. We also don’t have keys for our office, but use an electronic alternative that allows you to lock and open doors via app.
4. Control Access
Packages or any kind of deliveries are left outside in the hallway and are picked up by an employee (no hand-to-hand). All rooms where people tend to gather in close spaces (entrances and exits, elevators, roof terrace, break room) can only be used by a certain number of people, depending on the size of the room.
5. Keep a Protocol
Much like the restaurants here in Cologne take your personal data when you visit them, we also keep a digitalized file to track who was in the office at what time. This is not only helpful in case of an outbreak, but also valuable information for the people working from home, who then know who to turn to when it comes to stuff like checking their mail or watering their office plants.
6. Stay Social
The lockdown took a large toll on our society’s mental health. Returning to the office is a great way to combat this in a regulated environment. How to begin? We were unsure ourselves, but then just started winging it. If there are only a small number of employees registered for the next day, we organize a little breakfast or a barbeque on the rooftop after working hours, or we encourage people working at home to tune in digitally during lunch breaks and “hang out” with them in the breakroom or terrace while we are eating lunch.
7. Stay Up To Date
Effective national policies for the return to work require the coordinated action of government institutions. Responsible authorities should define coordination arrangements between relevant ministries, in particular labor and health ministries, namely for recording and notification of cases and their follow-up. The job of the companies, on the other hand, is to keep up with this information and adjust their daily business according to the new developments.
However, official institutions are not the only place that you can get valuable information from. You can also ask other companies how they are handling the shift from remote work back to the office or participate in surveys that allow you to gain insight into already existing information. Take part in one of our surveys here, if you are interested.
8. Stay in Touch
It is very important that you continue communicating with your employees constantly in order to nip any problem or issue they might have in the bud before it grows into something more complicated. Some employees might think that the regulations that are put up are insufficient for your specific workplace and might have improvement suggestions. Feedback surveys, for example, are a great way to stay in touch with your team. Especially if that team is scattered all over town due to remote work, like in our case. Click the following link to have a look at our solution.
9. Lead by Example
As always, it is up to management to lead by example. In our case, our CEOs made sure that the office was clean when we went back to work and that all the measures we just mentioned were upheld to the fullest. It was also one of our CEOs that created the back-to-work survey and planned the first barbeque for colleagues that were also working on site that day. We are given weekly updates on the legal status of how many people can work in an office and our employees can always turn to the respective managers at any time for an update in between.
The Show Must Go On
Even though the pandemic is far from over, it is important that we stabilize and revamp our economy which COVID has damaged heavily in its wake. Returning back to work is an important part of this stabilization process but doing it correctly is just as important. We wish everyone a safe and happy return back to work and are looking forward to your feedback.