How Should Companies Resume Working From Office After WFH Post Lockdown?
A large number of companies had provided Work from Home to their employees amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, with the effect decreasing, many companies are initiating the process to bring things back to normal. However, as they say, “Precaution is better than the Cure“, so it is essential to understand how the disease can spread and ways to control it. This article lists all the precautions for various stages when an employee goes out for work. The topics that will be explained in this article:
- What Led To Work From Home In The First Quarter Of 2020?
- What Precautions Were Being Followed Immediately After The News Of The Outburst Spread?
- What Was The Significant Step Taken By Almost The Entire World Unanimously To Curb The Spread Of Covid-19?
- What Precautions Must Be Taken While Travelling From Home To Work?
- What Precautions Must Be Taken While Working At Office?
- What Precautions Must Be Taken After Travelling From Work To Home?
What Led to Work from Home in the First Quarter of The 2020?
The end of the second decade of the 21st century began with the spread of a deadly Corona Virus. This spread was termed as Covid-19, and the infection spread from one person to another, directly or indirectly. It was first identified in Wuhan, China and later spread affecting a million+ people across the globe.
What Precautions Were Being Followed Immediately After The News Of The Outburst Spread?
The Covid-19 infection has a low mortality rate but a very high infectivity rate. The novel Coronavirus spread from one person to another through close contact with the infected person. It also spread to those who came in close contact with contaminated surfaces, objects or articles of personal use.
Once these facts were established, the following precautions were suggested:
- Regular Washing of Hands with Soap and Water.
- Keep an alcohol-based sanitizer always handy while travelling or when soap and water are not accessible.
- Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose and mouth with unsanitized hands.
- Maintain a distance of at least 1m from others, especially from those who are coughing and sneezing.
- Those with flu-like symptoms were asked to Work from Home or wear a mask if their presence was necessary.
- Hand Shakes were replaced by many different styles of formal greeting.
- Employees were asked to sanitize their hands frequently, and large quantities of Sanitizers dispensers were installed throughout the office.
- A temperature scanning device was connected in many places, especially while entering the office.
- While experiencing occasional cough, sneezes or running nose, employees were asked to use disposable towels or tissues and dispose of them immediately in a covered dustbin rather than using a handkerchief.
- Almost all office premises were sanitized extensively inside out.
- Also, employees used to wear gloves and push the door open with their arms and elbows rather than using their hands.
What Was The Major Step Taken By Almost The Entire World Unanimously To Curb The Spread Of Covid-19?
The governments all over the world decided to implement a Lockdown situation in which all the Shopping Malls, factories, companies, places of visit and other offices were shut down. Those who could work from home were assigned tasks to be completed while working from home. It was a curfew-like situation all over the world with police patrolling the streets and setting up checkpoints every nook and corner. A minor difference between lockdown and curfew was that people could go out and buy groceries or medical supplies with your nearby area.
After more than a month of lockdown, few cities and towns where the number of cases is a bare minimum or has reduced dramatically, are starting to relax the lockdown and open up half of the production facilities to provide essentials for the people and let the cycle of the economy to move. While relaxing the lockdown, great care has to be taken as any negligence can result in a disastrous situation. Hence, precautions must be exercised while traveling to the office, working in an office, coming back home and after reaching home.
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What Precautions Must Be Taken While Travelling From Home To Work?
If the government has decided to relax the lockdown conditions gradually and people are slowly returning to work, then a lot of precautions have to be taken. The Covid-19 disease has not been completed eradicated not a vaccine has been developed. Hence it the duty of every citizen, both the employer and the employee to follow certain precautions and safeguard themselves and their country from what could turn into a devastating epidemic.
Note: Please wear a mask and gloves from the moment you exit your house. These masks and gloves are not only for those who have flu-like symptoms of cough, sneeze or running nose but must be worn by everyone to protect the infection from entering their body. Also, when you wear a mask and gloves, the subconscious action of your hand touching your face is minimised.
The following procedures must be followed while calling employees back to the office. Most of these procedures may sound a bit rude, but it is the call of the hour to maintain social distancing and wear a mask and gloves at all times.
- Confirm Health Status of the employee.
The current health status of every employee must be confirmed by their respective supervisor. If there are flu-like symptoms, then it is advisable to let that employee stay at home to recover and prevent the spread of diseases. The flu-like symptoms can also mean that the employee might be suffering from common cold or normal flu and not Covid-19. However, Common cold is also a contagious disease, though not dangerous. It would be in the best interests of everyone to call that employee back to work after he/she recovers.
- Rules and regulations to be implied while commutation.
Once the employee’s health is confirmed, the next care has to be taken while commutating to office from work. This can be divided into the following points:
- If the employee uses his transport to come to the office, then he/she has to exercise self-care and precaution.
- If the employee uses public transportation to commute to work, then care must be taken to maintain social distancing while travelling and to wear disposable gloves which should be disposed of once the employee reaches the office. Also, it is recommended carrying a portable bottle of sanitizer where ever you go.
- If the organization provides transportation facilities to the employees, then the company must make sure that the cabs or buses are well sanitised and cleaned every day before pickup. Employees must maintain social distancing while commuting, and this could increase the number of vehicles required. Hence it is recommended to call only those employees to office who are unable to work from home due to the nature of their work.
What Precautions Must Be Taken While Working At Office?
Once the employees have reached the Office, it is crucial to Maintain Social Distancing and follow the precautions mentioned below:
- No Catching up on old friends and colleagues
The first and foremost care that has to be taken is to stop employees from meeting up, shaking hands, embracing and all other forms of social greetings. It is an entirely understandable human emotion that a person would like to meet his colleagues after a long period of lockdown.
- Limit people in common areas.
It is essential to prevent people from gathering in masses or walking too closely in the common pathways. Care must be taken to maintain distance while accessing lockers and having lunch. Group lunches must be avoided, and people should eat alone in alternative seats without sharing any food. If possible, then try to have your lunch on your desk.
- Use ID cards to log in.
Every organisation needs to issue ID cards with built-in electronic chips to log in the arrival and departure time at the turnstile. Using the finger to gain entry must be avoided. Also, after you have presented your ID card in front of the scanner, try to walk through without touching the turnstile. It is essential to maintain a distance of three feet from the person in front of you. In case you have to touch some of the parts of the machine, remember to sanitise your hands immediately and do not touch your face meanwhile.
- Sanitise the office every day.
It is necessary to sanitise the office both internally and externally every day before the employees arrive for work. This includes the Canteen, the pantry, washrooms, meeting rooms, and every cubicle must be cleaned and sanitised. All floors must be kept clean, including any hallways or passages in the building.
- Avoid group meetings.
As we are following social distancing from the very start, it is important to avoid any group meetings unless very important. In those cases, sessions must be conducted in smaller groups by maintaining a distance of at least three feet between the team leader and the team. Phone calls and messages can be used to deliver the message to a person even if he/she is sitting two cubicles down the line. Use Microsoft Teams to conduct virtual meetings.
- Ensure distanced seating arrangement
Another care that must be taken is to ask the employees to sit on alternative seats and wear masks while working in the office. It is recommended to open windows and doors for ventilation but in cases if that is not possible then ensure a microfilter (micro 95) is fitted in the ACs. If possible then spray your computer, desk and the surroundings with a disinfectant spray.
- Maintain Pantry etiquette and rules.
Always ensure to maintain a distance between yourself and others while in the Pantry. The management must limit the number of people in the pantry at a given time. Make it a practise to bring your mugs and water bottles and leave as soon as you have made a quick fill. This will also reduce the consumption of disposables and hence decrease the environmental pollution. It is important to drink coffee/tea but should be avoided while chatting in groups.
- Maintain procedure for the entry of Contractors, Vendors and Visitors.
Anyone who is not an employee must follow the same rules that have been laid down by the company for the employees. The first step would check the temperature of the visitor by using an infrared sensor and ensure that the visitor is wearing a mask at all times. If the visitor has a higher body temperature or does not have a mask, he/she must not be allowed to enter the office premises at any cost. If the visitor fulfils the above two conditions, then he/she must be entitled only to a specific point in the office and not beyond that.
What Precautions Must be Taken After Travelling from Work to Home?
Once the employee has completed the day’s work, the procedure of the commutation back home remains the same as followed while coming to work. After reaching home, certain precautions must be taken care of:
- After entering the home, the employee must wash his hands with soap and water for 20 secs and immediately take a bath. Use disinfectant liquid or Hydrogen Peroxide like Dettol or Lysol in bathwater if possible.
- The clothes worn to the office must be disposed in a sealed laundry bag and not with other clothes. This must be followed every day, and a different laundry bag must be used for office clothes and other used clothes. This must be used all clothes that were worn outside the home.
- Do not shake hands, touch, kiss, hug or embrace any family member, especially kids, before having bath and change of fresh clothes.
- Avoid going out of your home unless very important. Make a point to call your family and find out if they need anything before entering your home from work. This you will not have to make two trips or dispose of your clothes twice.
- Increase ventilation in your home by opening windows whenever possible. If opened during the day, it will ensure that a sufficient amount of sunlight also enters your house, which is essential to maintain a healthy atmosphere.
- Always keep a constant vigilance over your family’s health, especially children and senior citizens. Make sure that your children follow the same procedure if they are going to school and try to avoid visiting and inviting friends, families and neighbours for some time.
The Final Word On How Should Companies Resume Working From Office After WFH Post Lockdown?
The Covid-19 pandemic is a serious issue and not to be taken lightly for the slightest negligence will result in severe consequences. It is essential to follow the precautions mentioned above as they are not extraordinary steps but simple good habits and if possible, become extra cautious for that will only keep us safe. Some of the precautions might consume more time and cost than usual, but that should not be a concern over our health. Trust me; it is better to stay alive and healthy instead follow some bad habits to save time and effort.
Do share your thoughts on how our world will come back to normal after Covid-19 and what precautions taken now should instead become our habit to prevent damage from such a pandemic shortly.