We’re almost there. Mere centimeters away from the finish line of the pandemic. Looking behind us, we see all the lockdowns, mask-wearing, and social distancing measures. As now that things are open again (in Sweden and Norway at least), we can begin the process of adjusting to life without covid safety measures. Finally, we can crowd into bars and nightclubs like sardines and be in large groups again! So dust off your dancing shoes, say goodbye to the covid elbow bumps, prepare for a few massive bearhugs, some awkward limp handshakes, and kisses from your grandmother.
Yet, there are some guidelines that were enacted during the pandemic that make sense to keep with us while the future of work unfolds. As, if you haven’t noticed, while covid was spreading rapidly, there were fewer occurrences of colds during the pandemic due to social distancing, lockdowns, and mask-wearing.
So, here are some guidelines that you can implement at your office to keep it safe and keep people healthy as we progress into the post-pandemic period:
Maintain a safe distance
The two-meter social distance rule was put out because, at that distance, you’re significantly less likely to come into contact with germs and particles from other people. While it may have been seen as arbitrary at the beginning, there is some research and logic behind it.
Even in general, people’s personal space should be respected. As people essentially are just walking Petri dishes and we spread our particles around like crazy. So remaining a safe distance away from others is a good idea. But then when you take a highly contagious virus into account, it makes even more sense. So from here on out, let’s respect each other’s distances in a safe manner, especially at the office.
Stay home if you’re not feeling well
This is a bit self-explanatory, but it needs to be said nonetheless. If you are feeling any symptoms of a cold, flu, or sickness, stay home. Especially if your job allows you to work from home. There’s no need to put the health of your colleagues at risk, or your own to show that you’re a good or hard worker. One of the main takeaways from the pandemic is that our health is of utmost importance. We can’t work without it.
So stay home if you can. Follow your typical routines to nurse yourself back to health, go see your doctor, or drink copious amounts of tea. The main goal is to prevent the spread of whatever you may have to your office, your friends, and other people in society. As we are all in this together.
Implement a hybrid working plan
We have been harping on the benefits of hybrid working and the tools you need to do it properly but an obvious one is the social distancing aspect of it. It keeps your employees apart but connected digitally so that they can collaborate while maintaining a healthy distance.
Germs and diseases spread easily around the globe. Naturally, in a small workspace such as an office, they can spread even quicker. So a hybrid working environment gives your employees more flexibility and can keep them healthier, and happier! So while covid measures may be over, this is one worth holding on to.
Keep meetings small
This ties in great with the hybrid working model, but to make it a bit more concrete, keeping meetings small is a solid guideline to follow for keeping your colleagues and workers healthy. As if one person who is sick, or carrying a cold comes into a meeting then it’s very possible that everyone else in that room catches it too! So keep meetings small, or make them a blend of physical and virtual.
Wear a mask
While some of us are definitely ready to never wear a mask again, as it serves as a reminder of the pandemic, it did do its job. Even during non-pandemic times, certain parts of the world wear masks regularly for the extra protection they provide from common colds, germs, and viruses.
Recently (in western countries), they’ve become an accessory for our outfits. So depending on where you live and the requirements, if you don’t need to wear a surgical mask or a KN95 one, then you can make your own or add a bit of personality to your mask. It could match your shoes, your belt, or the theme you’re going for. Or if it’s cold where you live, they can keep your face warm. Something to think about!
Keep your hands and surfaces clean
This is something that we should have been doing before the pandemic, but it’s absolutely something that we need to continue doing afterward. It was a bit disturbing to hear about how many people weren’t washing their hands regularly. Covid changed that, but moving forward, we need to continue to clean and sanitize our hands constantly.
The same goes for keeping spaces squeaky clean and sanitary. Especially common areas in offices. As those are the places where groups of people congregate and the smorgasbord of germs reside.
Increase airflow in the office
Improve the airflow in your office. Having better ventilation is proven to have positive health effects. It removes mold and other air impurities, which, considering we just suffered an aerially transmissible viral pandemic, it’s something worth considering. Plus, there’s going to be cleaner air and less pollen, something allergy sufferers may appreciate. With a cleaner airflow, you’ll be breathing fresher air and removing stale air in the process. In short, it keeps you comfortable at the office and able to focus on the task at hand.
Recognize mental health is as important as physical health
Generally speaking, while it may be easier to identify the signs of poor physical health, the consequences of poor emotional and mental health are just as drastic. One of the chief causes of this in the workplace is burnout. This is where a person is overwhelmed by stress for a prolonged period of time. This leads to people quitting their jobs, performing poorly, anxiety, depression, and a host of myriad other issues.
It’s a bit more cut and dry to spot someone sneezing, know they have a cold, and realize they’re unwell. Understanding that someone’s world is dark and gray on the inside can be a lot more difficult to see. So, while everyone is familiar with the concept of sick days, mental health days should become more common. This could take the form of spending a day with friends, family, or a loved one, doing an activity they enjoy, or just sitting on the couch to unwind. It doesn’t matter how it goes as long as they have the time to recuperate mentally as they do physically.
Get vaccinated or tested regularly
We all want to stay safe, healthy, and ideally, happy. And one of the key factors that have allowed us to return to normal is the Covid 19 Vaccine that was produced by some of the world’s leading minds, in record time. This modern scientific marvel is readily available to most people for little to no cost (varies by country but please check your local official website for up-to-date and accurate information).
So, if you have the opportunity to, get vaccinated to help the rest of your family, friends, society at large, and especially those who are immunocompromised to stay safe from Covid 19. If you choose not to, it’s your choice, but consider the fact that you’ll have to be regularly tested to ensure you’re safe and keeping those around you safe as well. Plus some businesses will require proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to enter their establishment. Another thing to consider is that the covid measures that were put into place to keep us safe before we had the chance to get the jab are over now!