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Published On: Tue, Sep 14th, 2021

Tips To Make Your Office Building A Safer Environment

Office Building Challenges

New challenges have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the challenges is to determine if businesses will stay virtual or if they will return to a physical place of business. As we slowly rise from the pandemic to return to work, there are new guidelines and revised working practices that must be followed to provide a safe and secure return.

As people start going back to work after the coronavirus, guidance rules about working in an office building will change. Under this type of working environment and in response to vaccination rules and other unforeseen virus variant changes, new commercial changes will take place. These added safety guidelines for employees will provide a safer return to the work environment.

For example, if your office building is the Capitol in Washington, DC., new rules involve the installation and continued use of a high-security perimeter fence. Since its erection in January, a high perimeter fence has been a symbol of protection. Currently, there are many discussions about its presence and its use in the future.

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Making Your Office Building Safer

However, what is important for any industry office building is to make sure that it is ready for people to return to work in a safe working environment. Your building may or may not require a high security perimeter fence, but it will require making healthy and sanitary modifications.

Here are a few tips to make your commercial office building a safer environment:

At the top of the list is a safety plan suggested by the CDC and OSHA. Since many buildings have not been occupied for a year, they recommend that building owners and management staff ensure that the building is ready to be safely engaged.

Examples of the health agency’s building maintenance check for a safe return to work include the following:

  • Check for mold, mildew, or fungi
  • Conduct pest control
  • Check the HVAC
  • Check the water systems. It is suggested that public water fountains remain disconnected.
  • Conduct a proper maintenance check on the air ventilation systems. Studies have shown that the coronavirus doesn’t spread as easily in outdoor areas or spaces with good ventilation
  • Ensure that all electrical systems are working properly
  • Use a non-toxic paint to refresh the interior walls. The reason is that paint fumes or gases can move through gaps in the wall, in and around pipes, and through electrical outlets.

Outdoor Spaces

If there is enough outdoor space available, designing it with tables and chairs will be a very important mental health and safety environment. Office managers can provide a work environment outdoors for their employees. Also, an outdoor space helps returning employees to relax amid the new working rules and regulations.

Hand Sanitizer Stations

Walking into a grocery store or retail center introduces customers to hand-sanitizing stations and products. Commercial office buildings should be designed in the same manner. There should be communal hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the building and individual offices. Additional supplies like soap and disinfectant wipes should also be available to everyone.

Clean and Disinfect

Office buildings should implement a full coronavirus safety strategy. A daily schedule for cleaning and sanitizing all impacted surfaces must be implemented. This involves desks, door handles, light switches, faucets, and more. These surfaces require frequent cleaning and disinfection. If the public enters a building, then all high-surface areas will definitely need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before each use.

To further help in making your office building a safer environment involves the introduction of sanitized hardware technology. There are door handles, locks, keyboards, and other devices that are coated with a silver ion chemical that has been proven to help lessen the transmission of bacteria and viruses.

Office Layout Redesign

There is no doubt that downsizing any office space is a must. An open office space now appears to be a distant concept. Currently, the design of plexiglass dividers can be a social distancing technology at least for the short duration.

It has become necessary to limit the number of people who may be in community spaces. Revise seating arrangements to conform to the six feet apart requirements. To help returning staff members to be involved, it would be a good idea to allow each staff member to choose their own seats and office layouts.

Video Conference Centers

Implementing on-the-job activities for returning tenants is not a finite plan. Instead, it is a flexible and unpredictable environment. It is important that office workers contact home-based workers. Re-design a spacious room to serve as the video conference center for employers to stay in touch with their virtual staff members while keeping distance seating a must. This type of video conferencing algorithm allows both on-site and virtual workforce to come together to keep the business operating efficiently.

Taking Security Measures

Unfortunately, many traditional systems for entering and exiting security are not going to work during this post-COVID environment. COVID-19 guidelines for office buildings will vary. Remote workers and staggered staff members will likely be a continuing workplace event. Controlling access to your office building is a necessary security operation to keep everyone safe.

A lobby featuring a desk or kiosk continues to work well. Have individuals sign in keeping a slight distance between them. Lobbies may need to be re-designed to keep people from simply wandering around without checking in.

Another idea is to provide a separate entrance for employees and a different entry door for vendors and visitors. This concept allows the reduction of lobby traffic overcrowding. This plan helps to spread individuals across a wider area to increase social distance. It is also a better security plan to keep everyone safe. Naturally, office buildings that feature cameras and other security devices are a necessity during post-COVID office rules and regulations.

Closing

Commercial property owners must begin assessing their office buildings’ health, safety, and security plans during COVID-19 for the protection of returning employees. To ensure the health of the returning office staff and the health of the building, you must ensure that sanitization and disinfection guidelines are in place.

These tips to make your office building a safer environment are now the new normal. Office buildings must feature an equitable business readiness plan for employee health and safety. You must also comply with the medical and OSHA guidelines that are being updated frequently.

Granted that some companies could remain virtual indefinitely. But there are also many others that will return to a new way of conducting business. Remember, that there is no one single health and safety strategy.

One of the last safety measures is to implement wearing personal protective equipment. According to COVID hygiene, personal protective gear like masks is a hygienic method to help prevent the virus from spreading. Your office building could require individuals returning to work to wear a mask simply to protect others and themselves. The new mindset for the office is to provide layered defense methods to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

Author: Brenda Vollman

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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