The global stand-still caused by the pandemic is slowly coming to an end. People are now slowly trying to get back out there and face the new normal. Businesses all over are now taking baby steps to normalcy as the economy reopens. For companies who function better with all employees on the ground, this is a particularly daunting task. After months of being forced to shelter in place and observe social distancing guidelines, going back to the office will be an adjustment at first. Although companies have made the responsible decision to provide health checks and safety protocols, it’ll still be on us to stick to proper hygiene practices.
Proper and frequent hand washing isn’t the only thing we’ll need to remember when we go back to the office. We’ll also need to be more conscious of the surfaces we touch and communal spaces that we choose to occupy. Here are just some examples of the things you’ll need to remember, going back to the office.
Hanging out in the break room
The break room has always been where employees can unwind and hence “take a break.” Post-pandemic, though, it’s one of the places that should raise our concerns. It’s not always clear who’s in charge of and how often common spaces are cleaned and disinfected. Making sure to limit your time in the break room in the office can help avoid exposure to dirty or infected surfaces.
If your break room has a sink located in it, then this is one place in particular that you should remember to avoid or thoroughly disinfect. You may be thinking how the faucet handle could still be dirty if everyone who’s touched it has presumably just washed their hands. Touching the handle before washing with dirty hands and not properly disinfecting it can lead to germs accumulating on the surface. This is also true for faucet handles located inside the office restrooms.
Microwave oven’s door handle
Due to the pandemic, some offices that have reopened have chosen not to open their canteens yet. A common area where most employees won’t be wearing face masks is still a health and safety concern. Thus, most employees may be bringing packed lunches or ordering take-out for lunch. Nobody likes a cold lunch, so the microwave becomes essential. What you don’t think about is after warming up your food and touching the oven’s door handle, have you disinfected your hands before eating?
Vending machine buttons
What about if you decided to grab a quick snack from the vending machine? The same principle applies. Multiple people have touched those buttons throughout the workday. Vending machine attendants are usually in charge of the contents and not maintenanceIf you aren’t sure how often it gets sanitized, it’s best to wash your hands before eating. Don’t let your favorite candy bar or bag of chips go to waste.
Riding the elevator or taking the stairs
We should also be cautious when riding the elevators at the office. Enclosed spaces with stagnant air that have a lot of foot traffic can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Observing social distancing guidelines inside isn’t enough. It’s still considered a hot spot for possible disease transmission. It’s best to carry hand sanitizer and have a quick spritz during your ride. When possible, choosing to take the stairs and remembering not to touch the railings would be a better option.
When the workday is over and you all you want to take a load off, remember that you could also track dirt into your home. If you’ve walked, taken public transportation, or even driven home, then your shoes should be left at the door and disinfected. If you’ve placed the bag down on a shared workspace or the ground, don’t set it down on your counter or sofa.
Businesses that have reopened have done a great job at being committed to their employees’ health and safety. Company lobbies are regularly maintained and are spotless. These businesses also periodically sanitize tile or metal surfaces and hire commercial-grade carpet cleaning services to make sure floors are clean. Non-contact infrared thermometers are available for temperature checks and symptom screening procedures. Inside the restrooms, sinks have switched to touchless faucets and other equipment. Numerous measures are in place dedicated to helping protect us during the new normal.
Let’s not also forget to make sure office spaces are safe for our colleagues and us. Frequent hand washing and observing proper social distancing protocols will help us fight against the pandemic.