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Preparing for the Reopening of an Office during the Pandemic

Life is going back to normal as around 50 percent of the total population are now fully vaccinated. Even though there is a surge in cases in different parts of the country, some businesses have started reopening their offices. With this, they asked their employees to start working on-site.

If you plan to reopen your office and ask your employees to work on-site, you should make the necessary preparations to keep the office safe for the employees to work in. Here are some things you need to do before you reopen the office for your employees.

Rearrange the Furniture

Rearranging the furniture is important to ensure the employees maintain proper physical distancing when they start working on-site. You should take into account the guidelines set by the authorities when you rearrange the furniture. If only 50 percent of employees are allowed in the office simultaneously, you should make the necessary adjustments to comply with this requirement.

Rearranging the furniture also allows you to enhance the office’s ventilation as you increase the space by removing some of the furniture. It also facilitates cleaning high-touch surfaces. Additionally, you can also retrofit the workplace to comply with state and federal health guidelines.

Set Up Plexiglass Barriers

Restaurant and grocery stores already installed plexiglass shields to reduce the spread of the virus. Offices can also use similar barriers in areas where high foot traffic is noted. You can also set up these plexiglass barriers in areas where a lot of in-person interaction happens. These areas include hallways, employee desks, reception areas, and conference rooms. While they may be temporary, there’s a chance that they will become permanent partitions in the new normal office setting.

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Use Natural Ventilation

Offices located on the lower floors can keep the windows open rather than use air conditioning for natural ventilation. Opening the windows is a good way to control the climate in the office while stopping the virus from spreading. Using central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units can recirculate the air and transmit viral particles from one room to another.

On the other hand, keeping the windows open allows the air to move around, stopping the virus from remaining in one place the whole time. Since it may not be possible to keep the windows open all the time, you should have another plan in place to keep the air circulating when it’s necessary to close the windows during certain parts of the year.

Renovate the Filtration and Ventilation Systems

In case you cannot open the office windows, you should renovate the filtration and ventilation systems to mitigate the effect of viral particles that may go around the office. It should reduce the chances of these particles lingering inside the office. Upgrading the HVAC system can improve the airflow and remove contaminants in the air.

You can also set up portable air purifiers in the office if you do not have the budget yet to replace the HVAC system. These purifiers can help in improving airflow and reduce the presence of contaminants inside the office.

You may also want to consider working on the insulation of the commercial building. At this point, making changes to the filtration and ventilation system may affect the current insulation installed in the building. So, looking into renovating it is also something you need to look at.

Install Hand Sanitizers

You should also install additional hand sanitizers in the office. Keeping the hands clean is a simple but effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. With more people in the office, it’s practical to have several sanitizer stations in different areas in the office. You can position them at the entrance, reception area, restroom, break rooms, and conference rooms.

You can also place the same stations close to the desks of the employees. Giving the employees a weekly supply of hand sanitizer is a good way to encourage them to keep their hands clean and avoid getting infected.

Think About Using Cubicles Again

If your office removed cubicles in favor of open-office designs, you might want to think about bringing them back. The pandemic allowed people to appreciate the personal space they had when they worked at home.

Returning the cubicles in the office allows your employees to retain a certain level of privacy that they enjoyed working remotely. Aside from privacy, the cubicles can also prevent the spread of the virus inside the office.

Business owners should prepare the office properly if they plan to require their employees to work on-site. Proper preparations can keep them safe from the virus until everything goes back to normal.

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