Living in a post-COVID era means that even if new viral variants emerge, causing a new surge in cases, we need to be able to adapt and move on in all areas of life, most particularly in our work lives. The average person spends over 90,000 hours at work over an entire lifetime which is a significant amount of time at the office. This is why work places need to remain vigilant and safeguard themselves against new strains of Covid entering the work place and making everyone sick.
“Two years on from COVID and we’ve put lockdowns behind us, which is great. But we’ve also gotten quite slack about some of the basic skills we learnt during the COVID era, namely, hand hygiene and general disinfecting practices,” Brett McAllen CEO of @WORKSPACES, said.
The @WORKSPACES premium brand of coworking, private and services offices are spread right around Australia and bring Australian office workers professional office suites in prime locations. The brand hosts entrepreneurs, startups, mid-sized organisations through to large corporates, multinationals and government departments.
McAllen prepared a list of five tips to help office managers regain control of COVID safety in their offices.
“During COVID, many businesses implemented measures to create distance and screens between workers and customers. Now that we have moved on from COVID, many of these have been removed which played a vital role in curbing the spread of viruses,” McAllen said.
“If banks can continue to have their workers behind a screen for safety measures and we can be accepting of that, there’s really no reason why we can’t continue to be careful in the workplace with how we bring people together in a confined area.
“It is important that businesses continue to focus on the health and wellbeing of their people. New waves of COVID keep coming, along with other viruses. It is important that we don’t lose focus on the good behaviours we adopted during the pandemic to keep everyone safe and well.”
“Another habit that has faded into nothingness is the cleaning schedules that were imposed during COVID. Right around Australia, places like supermarkets were regularly wiping down high-touch surfaces. While it added cost to business operations, it is a good practice that has waned somewhat across the country,” McAllen said.
“It is highly beneficial to regularly disinfect surfaces that come into constant exposure to people.
“Even if you work by yourself in front of a computer, it’s always a good idea to clean down surfaces for hygiene reasons. And with many businesses turning to hot desking, your desk today, could be someone else’s desk tomorrow.
“Hot desking works well with hybrid work models when some teams work from home on certain days while other workers use the office desk space. But hot desking does require increased vigilance when it comes to office hygiene, so it’s important to recognise the risks and remember to sanitise communal work spaces diligently and regularly.”
Considering the safety about others
“During COVID, we were all really good about looking at the bigger picture and understanding that basic personal hygiene isn’t just about protecting one’s self, but it’s also about keeping everyone around you safe,” McAllen said.
“By being mindful of the risks that we might be creating for others, we are also making sure that we keep other people safe. Remember that not everybody has the privilege of enjoying good health, and that in your workplace, you might well have a colleague or two with compromised immunity. With just a bit more consideration, we can look after them too.
“In other countries, if you’re unwell, it’s considered part of basic etiquette and a courtesy to wear a mask if you can’t stay home. This is a practice that we should be adopting. It makes sense that if you are unwell, that you should be keeping your germs to yourself instead of going around spreading them.
“Surely the stigma of wearing a mask has worn off by now.”
The dangers of caution fatigue
“Many people understandably responded to the pandemic with anxiety. When we are anxious, the human body’s response is incredible at making us hyper vigilant. This is our fight or flight response, and it helps us immediately deal with whatever is threatening us in the moment. However as the pandemic dragged on, people experienced caution fatigue, meaning that they felt less motivated and less inclined to follow the advice and guidelines that had been laid out for them,” McAllen said.
“Letting your guard down is dangerous when you’re facing viruses that are microscopic and cannot be seen by the naked eye. You just never know which viruses you’re coming into contact with. See the risks as they really are and don’t minimise them.”
Promote vaccinations at work
“One of the great achievements of COVID was normalising vaccinations. Workplaces should continue to encourage workers to stay up to date with their vaccinations and this starts by normalising this habit. I am not just referring to COVID vaccinations, but vaccinations in general,” McAllen said.
“People are more likely to get vaccinated if they know someone else has been vaccinated and also if they believe that refusing vaccinations is abnormal. Workplaces can go a step further by visually promoting vaccinations in high traffic areas.”
Prioritising our health and safety
“As we continue as a society to make progress in our post-COVID world, we must not forget the lessons of the past while we surge forward. We spend so much of our time on weekdays at the office that it makes sense to prioritise our health. Ultimately, we all stand to benefit from it so making the effort to do simple things like wearing a mask to work if we’re sick, or wiping down surfaces can go a long way in keeping us all in the peak of health,” McAllen said.
@WORKSPACES is a premium service provider of coworking and private office workspaces that are strategically located near fitness centres, parks and dining and shopping precincts, so business clients are able to maintain a healthy work/life balance, and not fall into the sedentary lifestyle associated with traditional offices. Offices are located in CBD and suburban sites across the country.