The pandemic has changed everything, including how and where we work. State regulations have varied tremendously, resulting in multi-state companies often adopting the strictest restrictions and holding all offices to them for posterity. Most significant has been the health and safety of the employees, with considerations resulting in limited employee gatherings. No one ever expected retirement parties would be celebrated over Zoom.
As cases are now falling with omicron in retreat, regulations have turned into recommendations. While some state regulations might be gone, many companies are still very cautious, and rightfully so. Another variant is always a possibility.
For the most up-to-date regulations and recommendations from your state, it’s best to check your state’s website. For example, if you’re in California, visiting their dedicated site for workplace safety is an excellent place to start.
Hybrid Workplaces: The New Working Arrangments
Hybrid workplace practices might have started as temporary measures but now seem here to stay. As employees began splitting time between working at home and in the office, permanent desks became a rarity. The new hybrid workspaces are office spaces where employees might grab whatever space is available when they are there.
Hybrid workplaces sound great but present a new problem - they can be a breeding ground for all kinds of germs. Colds, flu, and other nasty things are just waiting to spread from that same area of the desk that everyone has been touching.
Keeping Hybrid Areas Safe
To help prevent germ breeding grounds from popping up all over the office, some preventative measures that make a big difference include:
- Wipe down desks daily - Once upon a time, workers would occasionally get a glimpse of disinfecting wipes and realize it’d been a few weeks since they’d cleaned the coffee off their keyboards. Those days will not be returning. Before starting anything, employees must wipe down the desk and everything on it when first arriving at the office.
- Clear away personal items - Coffee mugs can no longer be left just sitting around half full of cold coffee. Items like water bottles or mugs need to be cleared off when an employee is done using the desk. If they are not cleared away, the next employee to use the desk should use a wipe to move them and then clean the areas where they have been sitting.
- Wipe down cell phones - Most people are unaware that one of the dirtiest things around is their cell phone. To keep new germs away from a clean hybrid workspace, clean it regularly.
- No shared pens - The days of pen holders that everyone grabbed from have also ended. Pens shouldn’t be left lying around but in a personal bag.
- Keep bags off sanitized desks - Once a desk is cleaned to start the day, personal bags are best left on the floor. They pick up germs throughout the day that are just waiting to get onto that desk.
- Clean it when leaving too - More than likely the person at that workstation today won’t be there tomorrow. Sanitize the workstation as well as any items being taken home to prevent taking workplace germs with you.
- Make sure supplies are at the ready - Make sure that cleaning supplies, specifically disinfecting wipes, are in the proximity of every workstation for ease of finding and procuring wipes for cleaning.
These simple steps can make a tremendous impact on protecting employees.
Marketing the Effort Matters
Anything requiring employee action beyond their daily duties requires marketing and training. Many employees recognize a new normal but don’t necessarily know what their responsibilities are within it. Signs that remind employees of the responsibilities necessary to protect each other in hybrid spaces and outline the necessary steps to do so will dramatically increase employee participation.
Frequent mentions are necessary either in employee meetings or through group email. Most people need to have new concepts repeated numerous times to internalize them and make them second nature.
Antibacterial Fogging Can Make a Big Difference
Employees won’t always be as regimented about cleaning as is hoped, and bacteria and their friends, fungi, viruses, and other nasty particles are always looming large. Occasional Hydrogen Peroxide fogging is a great way to ensure the entire space is bacteria-free. Working on the molecular level, the aerosolized hydrogen peroxide gets into every part of the work area, ensuring everything is decontaminated. If performed on a Saturday, the work area is useable again when employees return to a completely clean office on Monday.
If you need help keeping up with these shifting employee health safety guidelines, as well as help with your Hybrid Workplace Cleaning, Pegasus can help.