The COVID-19 pandemic has nudged all of us to develop new habits that protect our health and ensure our safety. And, while working from home has been “the normal” for the past year — making it easier to stay safe — some companies are starting to make the transition back to the office.
With a focus on providing employees with a safe and healthy workspace, companies are taking all of the necessary measures to ensure an adequate environment for employees. However, as more companies consider hybrid schedules and shared workplaces for their return to the office, employees play a primary role in ensuring everyone’s health and safety. Specifically, while office etiquette rules are considered common sense, some of the new habits developed during the pandemic must also be included on that list. In particular, here are rules to keep in mind when returning to the office.
Sanitize Work Areas
The work desk is where you will likely be spending most of your time at work, so make sure it’s as clean as possible. Although coworking spaces have their own cleaning staff, it doesn’t hurt to sanitize the desk, chair and computer before starting your day. Furthermore, if you don’t have an assigned desk — for example, in the case of hybrid work schedules and office hoteling — this allows you to ensure that you start every day fresh and safe with an extra-clean work area.
Keep Shared Areas Clean
Working from home meant you had your own kitchen and bathroom. But, in a shared workspace, you have to share both of these spaces with other employees. So, for the health and safety of both you and your coworkers, do your part and clean up after yourself when using these areas. For instance, make sure to properly dispose of trash; wash dishes; sanitize tables and countertops; wash your hands before and after using these areas; and avoid leaving open drinks or food around, outside or in the fridge.
Maintain Social Distancing
Returning to the office allows employees to interact with colleagues and meet new people. However, as tempting as it may be to embrace socializing, keep in mind that social distancing measures are still relevant. To that end, avoid socializing in large groups, crowding into the bathroom, or waiting in the elevator area. Moreover, if possible, plan your lunch and breaks during less-crowded times.
Avoid Group Gatherings in Desk Areas
Popping up and gathering at someone’s desk — whether to socialize or discuss a project — was commonplace prior to COVID-19. However, to be conscious of people’s health and safety, consider moving any such group discussion to either a conference room or a spacious, well-ventilated, shared area. Not only will this prevent you from disturbing those who are working around you, but it’s also an easy way to maintain social distancing.
Keep Track of Your Belongings
In the past, forgetting to bring a pen to a meeting was usually remedied by a colleague loaning you one. However, now it would be more prudent to try to avoid borrowing items when you return to work. That’s because if you can avoid touching someone else’s belongings, you’ll reduce the chances of spreading any type of bacteria or virus. Granted, there are items you’ll still need to share with others, but try to limit these to only what’s necessary.
Stay Home When You’re Ill
Naturally, one of the most common-sense rules on this list is to avoid going to work if you don’t feel well. Regardless of any social distancing measures, how much you sanitize, or how strictly you follow the rules and respect other people’s health and safety, not following this rule can lead to significant consequences in a workspace. So, make sure to call in if you feel unwell. Or, if you start feeling sick when you’re already at work, contact your team leader or manager right away and go home.
Staying Safe Now Helps Get to a Better Normal
While COVID-19 has caused some uncertainty during the past year, the future of shared spaces is looking brighter than ever. In fact, more and more companies are choosing this option as part of their return-to-office strategy. With health and safety measures already in place, employees must also do their part and follow the rules that will keep them — and their colleagues — safe while thriving in the workspace.
If you’re a landlord or building owner and are interested in converting available spaces to flexible space, check out the Yardi Kube Space Management platform for coworking and shared spaces.