The Future of Work: Prioritizing Health and Safety in the Office
Over the past year, the pandemic has placed a spotlight on people’s health. Businesses all over the world shut down their operations in order to protect the wellbeing of their employees and customers. Some have since reopened, while others have remained fully closed, or now function with a hybrid workplace model.
2021 will likely continue to shape the future of the workplace. Hopefully, it will not be as extreme as 2020 and more employees will continue to return to the office in some form. With this return to in-person work, it is vital for employees to implement necessary habits to prioritize their personal health and wellbeing, as well as their employers to provide the essential tools to do so. Both parties need to work in harmony to ensure that everyone is able to maintain their health, so that the year can be safe, successful, and productive.
Whether you are working virtually, in-person, or in a hybrid model, focusing on the three pillars of wellness – physical, mental, and financial – should be a priority. Here are some ways you can prioritize health and safety in the workplace this year.
Equip Employees with the Proper Health Tools
As companies return to in-person work, proper precautions must be taken to ensure the health and safety of all staff. Make sure there is enough personal protective equipment (PPE) available for employees and customers (if applicable) to use throughout the day. These include face masks and hand sanitizer. Always be prepared in the event you run out of these essentials. In a pinch, you can use an online service to have masks and other health essentials delivered to the office in moments. Being proactive and having an emergency protocol will help everyone feel safer and more comfortable being back in the office.
Ensure a Healthy Environment
Organizations should adapt their offices to best incorporate the health and safety measures that were widely adopted last year to protect employees from COVID-19. Limit the total number of employees allowed in the office at one time, that way people can maintain appropriate social distancing. Through careful planning, desks and other communal spaces can and should be structured to also prevent close contact. Adding in protective barriers, like plexiglass between desks can also be helpful. Taking these necessary steps will help keep everyone safe as they transition back to in-person work.
Incorporate new cleaning standards for the office as well. Make it routine to wipe down all surfaces, such as desks, computers, and door knobs with appropriate disinfectant. Training employees to adapt to these new standards will help them adjust to the new normal, and can also be an opportunity to explain the safety mechanisms that are in place.
Allow for Flexibility in the New Normal
There are many flexible benefits that remote work provides. By eliminating the need to commute to and from work five days a week, people have gained back valuable time in their day. This creates opportunities to spend more time with family, exercise, cook more, or discover new hobbies.
When returning to in-person work, keep in mind these benefits that your staff has come to enjoy. Think of ways you can revamp your work-from-home policy to best support your employees’ individual needs. When given the choice to work in-person or remain at home, people can work around their comfort levels, allowing them to prioritize what’s important to them.
With many companies adopting a hybrid work model, you can also consider offering a coworking space to allow your employees to gather together in-person for meetings, brainstorming sessions, or team building exercises. These can be a great way to encourage engagement between your staff members, without committing to the traditional office approach. Just remember to maintain COVID-19 health precautious in any group setting.
No matter what your work model is this year, prioritizing your employees’ health and safety is a must for any successful company. Ensure that your workplace is as safe as possible by maintaining strict COVID-19 protocols. Support the comfort of your staff by continuing to adapt to the ever-changing nature of the post-COVID era. Use these guidelines as a starting point and brainstorm more to set your business up for success in the future.