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5 tips for opening up your office post-shelter in place

As a business owner, the coronavirus situation has probably put your company into one of two situations:

  1. Having everyone working from home has been a big productivity boost, and even once shelter in place is lifted, you may consider extending remote work for a while longer.
  2. Your company is seeing slowdowns because of remote work, or you’re in an industry that really benefits from face-to-face time, and you’re looking to bring the team back together into one place to get back to producing like you did before shelter in place.

If you’re in the first situation, congratulations! We’re happy that your company was well-positioned to continue providing value in this difficult time. If you’re in the second situation and want to open up your office as soon as possible, you’re going to need to make some serious changes to your office in order to stay safe. We’ve compiled 5 tips you can use to help make that transition much easier.

Tip 1: Face masks

Face masks are pretty exclusively used day-to-day in Asia, but with the current situation people in Europe and the United States have started to adopt wearing these when leaving their home, and we believe this trend will continue after shelter-in-place is called off.

In general, there are two kinds of face masks that people use:

  1. The disposable, one-time use masks (surgical masks)
  2. The KN95/N95.

Stocking up on these masks in your office will go a long way towards both keeping your employees and the people they interact with safe. Ideally, all masks are disposed of after use, but in situations where supply is difficult to acquire (i.e., right now), the KN95/N95 can be worn up to 5 times, though the disposable masks should still be thrown out after each use. This means, for each employee, you will need 5 disposable masks or 1 KN95/N95 mask per week of protection. For example, for a 100 person office, to protect employees for 3 months after office re-opening, will require a combination of 6,000 disposable masks or 1,200 KN95/N95 masks.

Tip 2: Social distancing

Obviously with all your employees at home, social distancing isn’t an issue. With everyone back at the office, you need to do the best you can to keep people’s working space separated. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Physically separate desks, so that there is at least a six foot buffer between each employee’s workstation. This requires a fair amount of office space but also ensures that the people in your office are not constantly side-by-side all day.
  2. Stagger days in the office, so that a portion of the employees work from home some days and a portion come in, for example:
  1. Team A comes in Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Team B comes on Thursday and Friday.
  2. The next week switch, so that Team B comes in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Team A comes on Thursday and Friday

Depending on how work is structured at your office, and how much available space there is, it may be possible to physically distance while still being in the same office.

Tip 3: Stock up on hand sanitizers

Your employees are going to want to clean their hands and their workspaces way more than they did before the shelter in place happened. This means you’ll need to make sure to have a large amount of both:

  1. Liquid hand sanitizer
  2. Sanitizing wipes.

For some more direct numbers, a person will need about 3.5 ml of hand sanitizer to clean their hands. To clean their hands 3 times a day will take ~10 ml of sanitizer. So if your office has 100 employees, that would be about 1 liter of hand sanitizer a week.
Please be aware that these are not trivial items to import in bulk from China. If you are leaning towards doing this, you need to start making arrangements NOW. We wrote a blog post about what you’ll need to do here.

Tip 4: Reconsider your company culture

Doctors have also been coming out and advising that we move away from hand shaking, at least until a vaccine has been developed.

Tip 5: Consider your open-door policy

If your office has been flexible about letting visitors come in, reconsider this in favor of more remote meetings with external parties. Remember, their office may not be taking the precautions you are!

Putting it all together:

It’s a new world we’re moving towards, and there will definitely be an adjustment period as we figure out how to physically work together. And when you reopen your office, we want to be your partner in keeping your employees safe. Click HERE for our office reopening safety kit.

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