By Indi Rooney
There is an intrinsic need for humans to connect and over the past few months, well, we’ve all felt it. If you’re even remotely social, you miss people. Some of us even miss going into an office to see our “work people.”
But as we go forward, offices will more likely look and feel different due to coronavirus. Measures will be taken to help ensure people’s safety — this includes changing the physical design of an office, adjusting how people work and more.
A redesigned work environment
Many experts are advocating changing the common areas in your office, such as meeting or conference rooms, doors, breakrooms and kitchens. It may come down to limiting the number of people in those rooms. Doors might become automatic or touchless. Kitchens and break rooms might be determined off limits (hopefully temporarily). Sharing a pot of coffee or a box of donuts is probably not the best idea for a while.
Open-plan offices might be on the way out (recent studies had already pondered exactly how effective these set ups are anyhow). Spacing desks and adding back dividers might be on the agenda.
Hallways where co-workers normally stop to chat may become express ways or even one-way streets so employees can move quickly to limit face-to-face interactions. It’s enough to make an extrovert sigh (into my mask, of course).
It might also be the time to check out air purification systems and make sure ventilation is in good shape for the office.
Office hygiene during COVID-19
Many states are asking that people wear masks when in public. This includes the office and the common spaces of your building. Temperature checks might be worked into the clock-in scenario. Coffee breaks might turn into hand-washing breaks. In fact, some workplaces are mandating that people wash their hands upon arriving at work. It is also recommended that employers provide sterilizing wipes and hand sanitizers for their work areas.
Going paperless is good
Modern workplaces might consider replacing things that people touch regularly with digital assets. This may include ditching physical paper files altogether and using digital files instead. Creating more technologically savvy ways to collaborate with coworkers and customers, such as utilizing online chat-based collaboration platforms to share work and get projects done.
Having a flexible schedule
No school for kids may mean restricted office time for parents. If schools aren’t open, a lot of workers will face real challenges because there’s no place for their children to go during the day. To help parents out, companies may need to implement flex shifts or offer work from home options. Interestingly enough, a University of Chicago analysis shows that 34% of jobs in the U.S. can plausibly be done from home.
Extra safety measures
In synopsis, companies should be flexible with their in-office employees across the board to ensure good social distancing and ample time for cleaning. Focus on who really needs to come into the office. Stagger shifts to reduce density in the office for those who must come in and try to help those with kids or people they need to assist.
Employers have a difficult task ahead of them as the nation continues to experience the effects of COVID-19. It will be key to enhance work life safety and make employees feel that coming to the office is safe. NPP has discounts from several partners that can help with all of this.
Businesses of all sizes can join NPP for free and save on brands they use every day. There’s no membership fee and no obligation to purchase, but businesses that sign up tend to find advantageous discounts on a wide variety of products and services.
For example, check out business discounts at Office Depot and OfficeMax for furniture, office supplies, cleaning supplies and more. It’s the perfect time to get your workspace ready for the new normal and beyond.
Here is a chart of COVID-19 products and services offered by NPP partner brands.