As more parts of the country are gearing towards a reopening, more people are preparing to return to work. If your company is among them, how will you make hot desking work in a post-COVID-19 world?
The following 10 suggestions will allow you to reinstate hot desking after the coronavirus:
1. Limit how many people are in the building at one time
2. Do contact tracing and temperature checks for each employee every day
3. Have supplies ready for all employees
4. Make sure all employees change out their gloves throughout the day
5. Keep staff six feet apart
6. Enforce rules about cleanliness to limit the spread of germs (and hire a cleaning crew)
7. Use productivity software so remote employees are accountable
8. Host large gatherings like meetings virtually
9. Create limits for breakroom and/or kitchen use
10. Let employees have a say in the schedule
In this article, we’ll cover these 10 methods for a cleaner, healthier workplace in much more detail. Even though the threat of the pandemic may appear to be deminishing, it is critical to take precautions to avoid employee sickness in the future. This is one article you’re not going to want to miss, so keep reading!
One of the perks of hot desking as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic is that it limits how many people are in the office at any one time. Half your staff might have worked in the office and the other half at home even before the coronavirus struck.
Now, in post-COVID times, you may want to cut that number back even further. Yes, this means more remote working, but most of your staff probably spent time working remotely anyway, so this isn’t a big change.
Compared to offices that are now just figuring out which employees to keep at home and which to allow in for the first time, having used hot desking already gives you a distinct advantage.
The pandemic numbers may have lowered, but the virus is likely not completely gone. To keep the workplace healthy for all employees, you must have security or other front-door staff follow two daily measures for everyone let into the building.
The first of these is temperature checks. Some patients with coronavirus will exhibit a fever, but not all. While these tests will let your company turn sick people away at the door, do know it’s not foolproof. However, assuming COVID-19 testing remains as hard to obtain as it had been, you can’t expect to have daily testing for your office. Temperature checks are the next best thing.
Each staff member who wants to get into the office must also consent to contact tracing. Your front-desk staff will ask questions of your employees, like who they’ve seen lately, where they’ve gone, and if they’ve been around anyone who’s sick.
This paints a broader picture of who may have been exposed to the virus, which can save lives (and not only of your employees but their loved ones as well) and limit virus spread.
Both measures will have to occur every day your employees come in. This may be tedious, but it’s your frontline defense in keeping the virus out of your hot desking workplace.
The mad rush for rubber gloves and face masks may dwindle somewhat, but these medical accessories won’t disappear entirely. You may ask that your staff wears face masks when they’re in the office and that they don rubber gloves as well. (Check out some of the latest face masks available on Amazon HERE)
For sanitation’s sake, you’ll want to provide these supplies to your staff. You don’t know where an employee could have gotten their gloves or mask from and what these items may have come into contact with before the employee arrived at the office.
It’s better to be overcautious in instances like these, especially since employees may sometimes leave their gloves or mask at home. You don’t want them putting anyone else’s health at risk by going without.
Gloves are also not one-and-done. You’ll need enough for each employee in the office at any given time to change out their gloves upon touching surfaces. It is possible to cause cross-contamination even through wearing gloves if an employee touches a germy surface and then a clean one.
When an employee goes to the bathroom, picks up a phone, types on the computer, or does anything really, they need fresh gloves. These measures may be new to employees coming back to work after the pandemic, so it’s worth sending a companywide email filling everyone in on glove protocol. The rules may be strict, but they for everyone’s safety in the end.
Also, if you’re thinking reusable gloves might be a good idea, they’re not. Mittens or winter gloves will also pick up germs on surfaces as rubber gloves do. The only problem is since the gloves are reusable, the employee won’t throw them away. Instead, the gloves go in their coat pocket, contaminating these.
The employee ends up bringing germs home with them at the end of the day, which puts their family at risk of getting sick. Rubber gloves are the standard and will likely remain that way for that reason, so have plenty ready.
Social distancing is the biggest phrase of 2020, but it’s more than just a buzzword. Staying at least six feet away from one another is one of the easiest and most effective ways to curb viral spread.
Your staff may be back at work, but as long as COVID-19 exists, it’s a good idea to continue social distancing. Two employees sharing one desk or workstation will have to be a thing of the past for now, unless that workstation is six feet long.
Since you’ll have even fewer employees in the office than you would before, spacing staff out shouldn’t pose a huge problem.
It might not be a bad idea to use masking tape on the floor and even get Plexiglass panels to delineate six feet of distance, as some people have a hard time imagining how far away to stay from one another.
The six-foot social distancing rule doesn’t mean water cooler talk can’t happen, but it does call for your employees to get a little more creative–and spaced apart–to keep these in-person bonds alive.
Employees don’t have dedicated workstations when hot desking. You probably won’t change that now, although you may have fewer employees sharing a single area to limit the spread of germs.
That’s a great start, but it’s certainly not enough. You need employees to wipe down the surfaces with antiseptic wipes, especially commonly touched ones like phones, computer keyboards, and cabinet drawers or handles.
Your cleaning crew might come in more often, such as during lunch hour to do a midday cleaning. Then, as soon as the office staff leaves for the afternoon, the cleaning crew would come back and disinfect the building so it’s clean and safe for the next workday.
The hot desking office model already prepared your employees for working at home. They were remote workers months, maybe even years before the vast majority of America switched to working from home, too.
Still, with you cutting down who’s in the office even further, you’re likely going to have more remote employees than non-remote ones. You need to ensure your staff continues to do their job, as their slacking off could hurt your company financially.
Your employees have practically countless options for productivity software, but as their boss or manager, you need something a bit more advanced. Productivity trackers such as HubSpot are ideal.
Through this software, you can track an employee’s URL use, app use, and their activity rates day by day. If you use other solutions for project management, this software should integrate with it.
HubSpot is one example of many, but you definitely don’t want to skip the productivity software. You may have had to tighten your purse strings in the wake of COVID-19 like many a business, but the money you could lose from lack of productivity is far more than what you’ll spend on a productivity tracking software, we promise.
As life slowly begins to return to some semblance of normalcy, your staff probably feels jittery about being around one another. This is quite a normal response. After all, for months now, we were told to stay at home and keep away from other people. Now you’re all back in the office together.
To keep everyone as comfortable as possible, why not stick to those digital meetings you’d already been hosting during the pandemic?
They’re beneficial in a few ways. First, since everyone is watching their screens, you can easily see if someone is slacking off and playing on their phone. Also, digital meetings allow you to include your remote workers so they don’t feel excluded or cut off from their fellow colleagues.
Besides the workstations and the bathrooms, the next biggest germ offenders are your office kitchen and breakroom. These areas will have to be thoroughly disinfected daily by your cleaning staff so they’re safe to use.
It might also be a good idea to limit who can go in the kitchen or breakroom at once.
You could open access in blocks. For example, the morning block would allow anyone with last names starting with A through E access. Then the second block would let in those with last names starting with F through J, and so on and so forth.
You can also have a daily virtual signup so employees can schedule when they use the breakroom or kitchen. To give everyone fair time, limit how long the employee can be in there. For example, kitchen use is limited to 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
With fewer bodies in the office, there won’t be wars over who gets to use the kitchen to make their morning coffee. These rules do prevent crowds from forming in the morning and at lunch when people want to make a meal though, which in turn means everyone is safer.
Speaking of scheduling things, we recommend allowing your hot desking employees to schedule their shifts as well. This isn’t necessarily an element of hot desking that happens often, but in this case, we’d say it’s warranted.
Your employees could be going through a lot right now. They may have recovering spouses, partners, or family members that need a bit more time, care, and attention. They could own a second business or have another job that’s demanding more time. They may even have to juggle childcare because their kid’s babysitter or daycare isn’t available.
Have a bit of extra patience and allow employees to play a larger role in their scheduling. They’ll greatly appreciate it.
Should employees wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer?
There’s no need to choose between hand sanitizer or soap and water, but both should be used at different times. If you and your staff can’t get to a sink or bathroom right away, then use hand sanitizer. If washing your hands is an option, then always do that.
“CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amount of all types of germs and chemicals on hands,” says the CDC’s official website.
Also, make sure the hand sanitizer has an alcohol content of at least 60 percent, even 70 percent, or it’s not worthwhile.
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