How workplace will be changed after COVID-19?
With the impact of COVID-19 outbreak, most of the workplaces are going to involve a combination of short-term health arrangement and longer-term design upgrades that putting hygiene as a core element of workplace planning. Moreover, most of the companies will tend to build the right workplace technologies for their office, in order to have remote virtual meetings between different employees in various locations.
Workplace technologies and specialists are going to be more important role to play in shaping the future workplace, to bring us a even better business communications in Anytime, Anyplace and Anywhere.
How COVID-19 easily spreads in workplace?
When people who has COVID-19 coughs or exhales they release droplets. It falls on nearby surfaces and objects in workplace. People could catch COVID-19 by touching contaminated stuffs – and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. If people are standing within one meter of a person with COVID-19, they could catch COVID-19 by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by them.
Some of the people infected with COVID-19 with mild symptoms and could be recovered so soon. However, some of them experience serious illness and need hospital care. COVID-19 is particularly dangerous to people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness. Especially for confined spaces such as office area and conference room, keeping 6 fit social distancing with each other is an important way to avoid COVID-19.
This document provides a set of recommended guidelines & considerations for the workplace post COVID-19. The fine line between “what’s right” and “what’s workable” will always be a dilemma to maintain the highest use of limited space, while providing safety to the employees.
Workplaces will vary from one to another, and the following are some guidelines & changes that companies may use as a reference for enhancing their working environments. Let's start to know the guidelines for the workplace post COVID-19 right away!
9 Things You Need to Know In The Workplace Post COVID-19
Follow these practices for the health of employees and the safety of your workplace:
- Temperature Screening at Entrances & Exits of a Workplace
- Implement Proximity Measures to enable better social distancing
- Use of Masks & Face Covering for the Workplace
- More practice of WFH (Work from Home)
- Better Space Management for users requiring a desk to work at a workplace
- Touchless Entry to minimize hand contact and the transfer of germs
- Touchless Room to minimize the contact of powering on/off of lights & A/C controls
- Self-Cleansing Stations with hand sanitizers & wipes to pre- & post-clean the working space
- Less Social Events, such as Town Hall & Happy Hours, to minimize the congregation of people
Understanding that businesses need collaboration to thrive, and that communications between people is imminent, what we are aiming is to reduce the frequency of these events and the risk of transmission for the safety of employees, but not to eliminate the gathering entirely.
However, if some of the face to face meetings cannot be avoided in anyway, there are still some key considerations to prevent or reduce COVID-19 risks:
Key considerations to prevent COVID-19 risks - before the meeting
1. Develop and agree a preparedness plan to prevent infection at your meeting:
- Consider whether a face-to-face meeting is needed. Could it be replaced by a conference call?
- Could the meeting be scaled down so that fewer people attend?
- Pre-order sufficient supplies and materials, including tissues and hand sanitizer for all participants. Have surgical masks available to offer anyone who develops respiratory symptoms.
- Advise participants in advance that if they have any symptoms or feel unwell, they should not attend.
- Make sure all organizers, participants, caterers and visitors at the meeting provide contact details, such as mobile telephone number, email and address where they are staying. Those details will be shared with local public health authorities if any participant becomes ill with a suspected infectious disease. If they will not agree to this they cannot attend the meeting.
2. Develop and agree a response plan in case someone at the meeting becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (dry cough or fever). This plan should include at least:
- Identify a room or area where someone who is feeling unwell or has symptoms can be safely isolated.
- Have a plan for how they can be safely transferred from there to a health facility.
- Know what to do if a meeting participant, staff member or service provider tests positive for COVID-19 during or just after the meeting.
Key considerations to prevent COVID-19 risks - during the meeting
1. Provide information or a briefing on COVID-19 and the measures that organizers are taking to make this meeting safe for participants.
- Greet without touching.
- Encourage regular hand-washing or use of an alcohol rub by all participants at the meeting.
- Encourage participants to cover their face with a tissue if they cough or sneeze. Supply tissues and closed bins to dispose of them in.
2. Display dispensers of alchol-based hand rub prominently around the venue.
3. If there is space, arrange seats so that participants are at least one meter apart.
4. Open windows and doors whenever possible to make sure the venue is well ventilated.
5. If anyone who starts to feel unwell, follow your preparedness plan or call your hotline.
- Depending on the situation in your area, or recent travel of the participant, place the person in the isolation room. Offer the person a mask so they can get home safely.
Key considerations to prevent COVID-19 risks - after the meeting
1. Retain the names and contact details of all participants for at least one month. This will help public health authorities trace people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 if one or more participants become ill shortly after the event.
2. If someone at the meeting was isolated as a suspected COVID-19 case, the organizer should let all participants know this. They should be advised to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and take their temperature twice a day.
3. If they develop even a mild cough or low-grade fever (i.e. a temperature of 37.3 C or more) they should stay at home and self-isolate. This means avoiding close contact (1 meter or nearer) with other people, including family members. They should also telephone their healthcare provider or the local public health department, giving them details of their recent travel and symptoms.
Getting the workplace ready in case COVID-19 arrives in your community or office
1. Develop a plan of what to do if someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 at one of your workplaces:
- The plan should cover putting the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others in the workplace, limiting the number of people who have contact with the sick person and contacting the local health authorities.
- Consider how to identify persons who may be at risk, and support them, without inviting stigma and discrimination into your workplace. This could include persons who have recently travelled to an area reporting cases, or other personnel who have conditions that put them at higher risk of serious illness.
- Tell your local public health authority you are developing the plan and seek their input.
2. Promote regular teleworking across your organization. If there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community the health authorities may advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places. Teleworking will help your business keep operating while your employees stay safe.
3. Develop a contingency and business continuity plan for an outbreak in the communities where your business operates.
4. The plan will help prepare your organization for the possibility of an outbreak of COVID19 in its workplaces or community. It may also be valid for other health emergencies
- The plan should address how to keep your business running even if a significant number of employees, contractors and suppliers cannot come to your place of business - either due to local restrictions on travel or because they are ill.
- Communicate to your employees and contractors about the plan and make sure they are aware of what they need to do – or not do – under the plan. Emphasize key points such as the importance of staying away from work even if they have only mild symptoms or have had to take simple medications which may mask the symptoms
- Be sure your plan addresses the mental health and social consequences of a case of
COVID-19 in the workplace or in the community and offer information and support.
- For small and medium-sized businesses without in-house staff health and welfare
support, develop partnerships and plans with your local health and social service
providers in advance of any emergency.
- Your local or national public health authority may be able to offer support and guidance in developing your plan.
Post COVID-19 transformed the office environment from a place where people come to work every morning to the current workplace where they are required to meet & collaborate face-to-face only when necessary. This Workplace Transformation is what we are foreseeing of what the future may be like.
It is important that every workplace must practice and be equipped with as many of these preventive measures as possible to ensure the safety of employees. The way we work and how a workplace functions have transformed right in front of our eyes and will never be the same again.
This is what we call the “New Normal”.
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