After a trying year, we’re finally beginning to reach the moment we’ve all been waiting for: a return to normalcy. With many offices and businesses opening back up as COVID cases decline sharply across the country, it’s easy to want to jump back into “normal life” and forget about the turbulence of the past year—however, it’s important to remember that the pandemic isn’t completely over yet.
The CDC still has COVID guidelines in place for 2021 to help mitigate the spread of disease and help businesses keep their workers safe and healthy. Take a look at the latest protocols for COVID and our tips for following these guidelines to create a safe, productive office environment.
Continue to Distance
According to the 2021 COVID guidelines, it’s still necessary to implement social distancing and limit crowding as much as possible in the workplace. This means keeping workspaces at least six feet apart and limiting the use of communal areas like conference rooms and break rooms. If you need an efficient way to distance your employees, consider cubicles that come with panels or barriers that add a layer of protection for each worker.
Discourage employees from congregating in cafeterias or break rooms for now, and maximize airflow by ensuring that you have a working HVAC system and keeping windows and doors open when possible.
Make Masks and Sanitizer Readily Available
Even if the mask mandate in your state has been lifted, the CDC’s latest COVID protocol is to keep wearing a mask for the time being. Whether or not you implement a mask mandate in the office, you should make masks readily available for employees to use in situations in which they aren’t able to practice social distancing. Set up hand sanitizer stations around the office to remind and encourage employees to sanitize often.
Invest in Antimicrobial Furniture
Antimicrobial furniture is made with antimicrobial materials that limit the growth of harmful bacteria on surfaces. Places like health centers and schools likely already use antimicrobial surfaces in order to meet hygiene standards and keep bacteria at bay, and with antimicrobial office furniture, you can bring that level of cleanliness to your workspace.
Utilize Sneeze Guards
Sneeze guards and barriers are simple, cost-effective solutions for distancing in the office. These clear panels come in all shapes, sizes, and functionalities and are typically extremely easy to set up and keep clean. This added level of protection keeps employees safe from each other when working in close proximity, and it’s absolutely necessary in a workplace that requires frequent face time with clients or customers.
Be Flexible and Understanding
Regardless of the latest protocols for COVID, it’s crucial to form your own assessment of your office environment and make choices that will keep you and your employees safe and happy. Listen to the concerns of your employees and colleagues, encourage those who feel sick to stay home, and consider a hybrid work-from-home schedule if necessary. Use common sense, and keep an eye on the CDC’s 2021 COVID guidelines.