To our great relief, businesses are starting to reopen after the Coronavirus quarantine. Our cabin fever and anxiety of the unknown have finally subsided, but we might still feel hesitant to return to work. We’ve adjusted to working remotely and the commute is not something we have missed. But commutes are not the only thing to worry about in this post-Covid world. Things may seem like they are returning to “normal,” but it is best to proceed into the workplace gingerly. As many office workers know, infectious illnesses spread like wild fire.
Contributing Factors to Germ Spread
The most obvious factor is many people in close quarters breathing each other’s air and touching the same surfaces. If your company is able to maintain remote work partially, this is a good idea to limit the amount of people in the office. Think about staggering the use of cubicles. It may also help to add or extend existing partitions to keep the spread of droplets more isolated. But air quality and surface material also play a significant role. For example, air temperature can determine how long those germs are living. Generally speaking, cold air kills infectious germs whereas warm air incubates them. This considered it might be advantageous to keep the office on the cooler side, even during the winter (a.k.a. cold and flu season). Improve ventilation by opening windows during the pleasant months if you are able to do so. It is suggested to use a commercial-grade self-contained air purification system in lieu of HEPA filters in the HVAC system. Surface material is another determining factor in how long germs live. It is not widely known that plastic surfaces harbor germs for significantly longer than metal ones. It may be a good idea to update your office equipment with metal surfaces in any place this can be done. For spaces that are almost always exclusively plastic (such as the keyboard and mouse), it is a good practice to disinfect at the beginning and end of the shift.
Stopping individual spread
Hand hygiene is probably the best and easiest way to prevent the spread of pathogens. Providing hand sanitizing stations around entrances and other high traffic areas encourages hand hygiene. We know that germs linger on desks and keyboards, but fridges, fax machines, mugs and door handles are also havens for pathogens. Stock disinfectant wipes at all desks and common areas to promote use by employees. Post hand washing how-to’s anywhere there is a sink. This may seem silly and patronizing, but there is a wrong and right way to wash your hands. Provide PPE for your staff, including face masks and gloves. According to the CDC, it is a good practice to swap out PPE every 30 minutes. Encourage healthy lifestyle among employees, including eating healthy, exercising, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and yes, even staying home from work when they are sick. Don't penalize them and offer them sick pay if it is something your company provides.
Increase Quantity and Quality of cleaning
The post covid-19 era is a strange and daunting time for all of us. Just remember we can all do our part by avoiding direct contact with others, wearing PPE, practicing good hand hygiene, and most importantly, cleaning and disinfecting our facilities frequently and thoroughly. Just make sure you use the right chemicals.
-Elizabeth Carter, Office Manager at Country Club Janitorial, LLC