A Handy Checklist for Creating a COVID-Free Workplace
COVID-19 is a massive global concern. It has negatively impacted economies, shut down workplaces, and forced cities into lockdown. As per a recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), due to COVID-19, the world lost almost 400 million jobs between April and June 2020.
But slowly, economies are opening up. Since there are still concerns related to COVID-19, about 40% of workers might continue working from home. But for the majority of workers, a physical return to workplaces seems likely.
As offices around the globe begin to reopen, the safety of employees has become a topic of paramount importance.
Organizations are forced to reimagine workplaces to create a safe and COVID-free environment for their employees. Organizations are trying to figure out ways of safeguarding employees and migrating to a new way of working.
In this article, let’s give you a handy checklist that can be referred to while creating a COVID-19 workplace.
Major health organizations like WHO and CDC have published recommendations for how to operate businesses while ensuring workplace safety. These recommendations focus on engaging in social distancing and proper sanitization. Some of the key points from these recommendations include –
Prevent and reduce COVID transmission among employees
Businesses and employers can prevent and slow the spread of the disease by following some basic precautions including the following –
- Employers must actively encourage their sick employees to stay at home. The sick employees must follow the CDC recommendations and should not return to work until they are well. If they are not sick but have COVID-positive family members then they must notify the employers and follow recommended preventive steps.
- Organizations must take regular temperature checks and prevent the entry of demonstrably sick employees. They must conduct regular in-person and virtual health checkups for their employees. These checks should be done safely while using social distancing. There should be multiple screening entries into the office building.
- Employers must work on identifying where and how the workers might get exposed to COVID-19 at work. Since they are responsible for providing a safe workplace, a thorough hazard assessment of the workplace must be done.
- Companies must ask their employees to wear a mask at all times. This helps prevent the spread of the virus from infected employees to others.
- If any employees have symptoms upon arrival at work or if they become sick during the day then they must be immediately separated from other employees and sent home.
- In case there has been a confirmed COVID case in the office premises, companies must take the necessary steps to clean and disinfect the entire place.
- Employees must also be educated about the disease. They must be asked to wash their hands often, avoid crowded places, use sanitizers, and use masks.
- For employees who use public transportation, companies must try to provide them alternate transportation facilities.
Maintain healthy business operations
Some important steps in maintaining healthy business operations include –
- Implementing flexible leave policies that are consistent with public health guidance.
- Using company policies to protect employees who are at higher risk of catching the infection. This includes giving employees the option to telework, flexible work timings, and minimize contact with customers.
- Keeping employee communication channels open and frequently sharing supportive workplace policies.
- Assessing the essential functions of the organization and handling all other responsibilities to employees working remotely.
- Planning a response in case absenteeism spikes.
- Creating policies and practices with respect to social distancing.
- For businesses having multiple locations, prefer giving responsibilities to local managers.
Maintain a healthy workplace environment
COVID-19 can also be spread by those who show no symptoms of the disease. Hence, it is important for employers to do all they can for maintaining a healthy work environment. The following steps should be taken –
- Improve the building ventilation system by ensuring the ventilation systems operate properly and provide better indoor air.
- Improve the safety and sanitization of the building’s water system.
- Providing employees and visitors the means to sanitize their hands and cover their faces. Provide touchless hand sanitizers, no-touch trash cans, handwash areas, and tissues.
- Follow proper guidelines in cleaning and sanitizing the entire office premises.
- Discourage employees from using each other’s desks, phones, office spaces, or tools, etc.
- Minimize the number of meetings and prefer video conferencing whenever possible.
As a general rule, it has become more important to have reliable and intelligent mechanisms to record, monitor, track, and report on such operational parameters. A functional facility management solution that allows tracking the maintenance of the key infrastructure and facilities, keeping track of the various assets at the disposal of the organization, and providing a smart, well-equipped, uber-informed facility helpdesk can become the crucial link in the whole chain.
Using technology to create COVID-free workplaces
Along with following the precautionary guidelines issued by health organizations, companies must also rely on technology to ensure that they can truly create COVID-free workplaces. Technology can play an important role in ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in the plans to keep the employees safe. Some of the innovative applications of technology in creating safer workplaces include –
As offices reopen, contactless technology is going to play a big role in keeping workplaces COVID-free. In the post-COVID world, we all are conscious of everything we touch. So, reducing common touchpoints can go a long way in reducing the spread of the disease.
Instead of walking around to find a free space and then touching the on-demand device, touchless technology can make the process a lot simpler. Using touchless registration, employees can know when a room is occupied or empty. It can also automate room sanitization so that it is ready to be used by other employees after a meeting.
Organizations are looking at exploring the potential of smart identity cards to facilitate contactless entry and exit. These cards can be used to open doors, activate lifts, or make payments.
Similarly, employees can also use their smartphones to perform the same functions. These smartphones can act as personal remote controls for employees to interact with their work environment without the need to ever touch anything. These can be used to book meeting rooms, activate dispensing machines, make payments, or mark attendance.
Smart signage devices
To avoid employees walking into occupied places or bumping into others, many companies are making use of smart signage devices. These devices allow employees to see from a distance whether a room is occupied or not. It can eliminate unplanned encounters to create a safer environment. Such signage can also play a key role in emergency situations like mandatory evacuations that may be called for if a widespread outbreak is detected.
These devices can be installed outside meeting rooms, cafeterias, and other common areas to avoid unnecessary hovering outside rooms.
Contact tracing apps
Despite taking all the precautions, some employees might test positive for COVID-19. That is why having contact tracing apps can prove to be beneficial in getting insights into which employees are likely to be exposed to the virus.
These apps can use the phone’s BLE technology to contact trace the employees. It can also allow the employees to digitally track their symptoms in the app itself. The employers, on the other hand, can have access to detailed dashboards and can alert employees in case of a possible infection.
Technology is increasingly being used to improve visitor management in companies so as to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Companies are using contact-free check-in for visitors to safeguard those working at the front desks. Companies are using QR-code-based check-in processes wherein the visitors can simply use their smartphones for completing the check-in process.
Technology is also being used to reduce the waiting time for visitors. Not having any visitors waiting for their turn in the lobby is essential to minimize the risk of infection. Visitor management systems also increase safety and create a safer environment within the company.
Within a span of only a few months, COVID-19 has forced companies to rethink their way of working. It has become a priority for companies to ensure the safety of their employees and provide them safe workplaces. In the process of creating safer workplaces, the key points mentioned above would make for a handy checklist for creating a COVID-free workplace.
If you are also looking at making your companies safer then we at SeQure can help. We specialize in delivering smart facility management solutions and in creating touchless, paperless, and secure workplaces. To know more about our solution, get in touch with us here.