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Return to the Office

10 tips for a successful return to the office

The Irish government has hinted at a ‘staggered return’ to the office from mid-September. If you haven’t already thought about it, here are 10 things to consider after over a year away from the workplace.

1. Make Space

We all know that social distancing is one of the best actions we can take against the spread of Covid-19. Consequently, you need to ensure that there is adequate space for everyone to sit. Some offices may need to rethink the design of their workspace, moving desks further apart or adding Perspex sneeze screens to protect employees. Don’t forget areas other communal areas such as the kitchen and canteen that may require a rethink in terms of positioning of furniture and appliances. If you require help with space planning, our furniture specialists can help advise you on how to make the most of the area you have.

2. Consider ventilation

Providing clean air is another major step to battling the virus. If open windows cannot provide a good source of clean air, then you may want to consider installing air filters to continuously eradicate germs, dust and viruses from the workplace. An air filtration system is particularly useful in colder seasons where windows cannot practically be left open.

3. Add signage

Help staff and visitors navigate their way around the building by using a range of signage. Vinyl floor stickers with arrows or 2-metre distancing reminders will help people to know where to stand or which direction to follow. Remind everyone about hygiene by adding wall signage in bathroom and kitchen areas. Use bright colours and bold lettering to make it easy for everyone to see and don’t forget areas such as stairwells and meeting rooms.

4. A clean desk

Instil a clean desk policy. This is not just to protect confidential documents, but to safeguard staff from germs if they are hotdesking. Many offices may be inviting employees to come back to the office part-time so may have reduced office space to include hot desks. Ensure you have all the antibacterial products you need, such as a hand sanitiser, an antibacterial mouse, antibacterial pens and antibacterial wipes to wipe down your workspace after use ready for the next person to use.

5. Provide hygienic products

Ensure you have all the products you need to reassure staff and visitors. Provide disposable or reusable face coverings for staff, and ensure you have a stash of disposable face masks for visitors to use. Hand sanitiser is a must for entrances, exits and anywhere there are touchpoints such as stair rails. Provide antibacterial washroom products and ensure that frequently used areas such as washrooms and kitchens are cleaned on a daily basis.

6. Provide individual stationery for staff

To avoid the spread of germs, why not provide each staff member with their own set of stationery products including pens, stapler, hole punch, tissues etc. These can be kept in a handy caddy that doubles up as a phone or document holder.

7. Be mindful

Many employees will be feeling anxious about getting back to the office. They may be worried about using public transport or mixing with large groups of people again. Promote a supportive atmosphere and be mindful of others’ feelings.

On the flip side, many will be craving face-to-face interactions and the welcome change from being isolated at home. A return to the office may be a big challenge for some, learning new ways of hybrid working. It may take time for some to settle back in, so a sympathetic environment should be created with an emphasis on kindness to each other.

8. Staggered arrival and departure times

If there are a large number of employees, it may be safer to arrange staggered arrival and departure times for staff to avoid large groups of staff arriving and departing en masse. Remember that it won’t necessarily be a 9 to 5 working day and have a rota so no one is forced to always arrive earlier or depart later than they should.

9. Utilise any outside space

If you have an area outside the office that can be used then make the most of it. Everyone will welcome a breath of fresh air. Walking meetings, tea breaks outside. Provide outdoor seating for lunch breaks, sheltered areas and benches for casual seating. Consider outside meetings wherever possible, especially if it’s for a more informal chat.

10. Staff Training

Make sure staff are aware of procedures regarding the new way of working. Staff training could include action to take if someone develops Covid symptoms, how to navigate the office and what happens if anyone does test positive for the virus. This will be especially important as we move into winter when other viruses such as colds and flu start doing the rounds.

Sundry Supplies would love to help you return to the office safely and with confidence. If you require help with products, signage or space planning, contact our team today for some friendly advice. We wish everyone a safe and successful return to the office.

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