That COVID-19 completely disrupted life as we know it is no secret. From restrictions on movement and physical gatherings to mandatory wearing of masks in public, keeping social distance while commuting and more, the virus overhauled everything.
After more than one year of dealing with the pandemic, life has to go on albeit with some adjustments. Employers have put and continue to put in place measures to help their staff return to physical offices safely. Despite that, some people are still apprehensive about going to the office- and understandably so.
Here are a few tips to ease your mind on making a safe re-entry to office life.
i) Mental Preparation
Depending on how long you’ve been away from the office, going back might be intensely mentally tasking. Thoughts of being around people again while in the middle of a pandemic can be anxiety-inducing.
To ease yourself into office life, do a dry run before your official return to work date. Go to the office before your official start date. Walk around, sit in your chair and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. This helps you get a feel of what to expect when you eventually report to work.
ii) Maintain Social Distance
It’s easy for us to forget to keep our distance from others when in group settings. However, COVID-19 is still very much around and we need to be careful at all times. If a colleague mistakenly steps into your space, give them a gentle reminder.
Also, you can create physical distance with your body language and furniture. Move your chair farther away, stand behind your desk, or reorganize your workspace to create more distance between you and your co-workers.
Wearing a face mask all day can be bothersome, but keep in mind that it’s for the safety of yourself and those you interact with. Keep your mask on when around others especially if you’re at close quarters with them.
Employers face the tough task of maintaining safety standards for their staff as they return to the office. However, keeping everyone safe at the office is possible with measures such as:
i) Phased Re-entry Plans
Where possible, employers should implement phased plans to bring staff to the office. If the employees have been working from home, bringing everyone back at once can be dangerous. It can lead to increased transmission and positive cases.
Phased returning reduces the chances of transmissions among workers. It also gives employers a chance to make adjustments if problems come up.
ii) Physical Restrictions
To keep the chances of transmission as low as possible, employers should minimize crowding at the workplace. Some examples of this include new hours of operation at the office cafeteria to allow for few people at a time, one-way traffic flow in stairs, escalators, and common areas, barriers to encourage physical distancing, etc.
Returning to work in the wake of COVID-19 is challenging, yet possible. With a few thoughtful considerations, we can get back to work while maintaining safety.