As the conversation around return to work continues, many employees may be wondering how to prepare to ensure they are keeping their workplace and community safe. Below are six steps to take an active role in their workplace and community.
Offer to work from home, if you can
You have probably been working from home for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and if you have the choice to continue doing so, take advantage. Companies like Slack and Google are allowing their workforce to continue working from home.
Working from home not only allows workers to have the safety of working in a less crowded space but also helps alleviate the financial impact of your employer accommodating social distancing measures and additional guidelines from the CDC.
Stick to virtual vs. in-person meetings
If you are required to return to the office or have opted to return, you are probably excited to get back to chatting, meeting, and doing your 1:1’s in-person. In a new study, they found that when someone holds a conversation they are exhaling thousands of tiny droplets that can remain suspended in the air for 8 to 14 minutes.
As you continue to utilize virtual meetings, mix things up with various themes or games. If you are lucky enough to have a boardroom or conference room large enough for you and your team members, be sure to place measures to keep with social distancing measures.
The traditional shared refrigerators, communal coffee, plates and cutlery, free food, and eating together is going to be a thing of the past. If your employer has not taken steps to reduce exposure in shared kitchens or break areas, you can create a plan for yourself.
If you bring your lunch from home, then take a few extra steps like bringing your own dishes and silverware in addition to a small cooler to keep by your desk to limit your exposure to shared spaces and high traffic areas. If you are a caffeine-addict, consider picking up a single-cup coffee maker to provide yourself with an easy coffee solution. If you have to use communal items, treat them with common sense, and always clean them before and after use.
Create your cleaning routine
The CDC has created recommended cleaning procedures for employers, but it is never a bad idea to create your own routine. Most employers will have a developed return to work program for their worksites and that is a great place to learn what steps your employer is executing.
It is encouraged by the CDC to wash your hands anytime you touch door handles, handrails, communal office supplies, and the bathroom. It’s a good idea to also carry a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. As part of your routine, consider wiping down your desk surfaces and frequently used items like keyboard, mouse, and your computer every time you leave and enter your office.
Consider bringing your personal protective equipment (PPE)
Some states, like California, and companies are requiring face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. If your company is requiring face-coverings, they should provide their employees with a few options. Have a little fun and purchase your own face covering to show off your personality, favorite sports team, or unique patterns. You may also consider purchasing anti-bacterial hand gel, surgical gloves, wet wipes, and tissues. If you are unable to buy a mask, a face-covering such as a scarf or bandana is a good alternative. You may also wish to wear a mask and gloves when traveling to and from work, especially if you will be taking public transport.
If you are uncomfortable or unsure about returning to work, then ask questions or bring up your concerns to your manager or HR team. Employers are learning and modifying their programs as things change and more information is available.
If you are an employer and don’t know where to start developing your return to work program, then utilize our return to work series that includes a webinar, a leadership ebook, and the tactics and tools to consider.