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    Social distancing when offices reopen

    Posted by Bill Herndon

    Posted on 30th Apr 2020 in Office Culture


    Bay Area authorities said the nine-county lockdown has been extended from May 3 to May 31. That means all nonessential businesses remain closed and most workers remain furloughed or working from home through April. There will be a point when normalcy once again prevails and you're fighting rush-hour traffic to get to work. Many companies are likely to reassess their office designs and protocols when the smoke clears.

    Open office furniture and workstations are common in the Bay Area and country at-large. Workers are in close proximity to promote collaboration and higher productivity. These types of arrangements are not all of a sudden going to disappear in mass. But Human Resources personnel and upper management are likely to heed whatever advice and methodologies government and media promote.

    A solid majority of Americans (62%) believe media are exaggerating and even sensationalizing coverage of coronavirus, according to a Pew Research survey taken on March 18. Social distancing is terminology that will stick around for the foreseeable future. Workplace etiquette isn't going to be the same, at least in the beginning. Hypochondriasis and fear will be exhibited among some coworkers. A few extra precautions will make everyone in the office feel safe and ready for normalcy.

    Stay home when sick

    Americans are either very dedicated workers or have bonus structures that depend on attendance. Companies are likely to curtail the iron-man mentality when offices reopen. A 2019 Robert Half study found that 90% of workers admitted they go to work when suffering from cold and flu symptoms.

    A sneeze or two here and there is unlikely to cause panic around the office. But deep, wet coughs are sure to capture the attention of everyone. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that workers stay home whenever they're feeling under the weather. Companies can protect workers by instituting policies requiring sick people to stay home. Make workers more willing to stay home with language that ensures performance reviews are not effected by absences due to illness.

    Temporary barriers

    Eco Office is already receiving calls from clients wanting to revert their open office workstations to traditional cubicles. However some companies feel open office is best for their culture. There are several measures that can be taken to create space between workers without completely abandoning open office principles.

    Use office partitions as strategically-placed, temporary walls and barriers until everyone feels comfortable again. Granted hand sanitizer is scarce right now across the country. But make sanitizer as visible and readily-available as possible to ensure everyone uses it. Plants also make great temporary barriers that provide sound-resistance and improved air quality.

    Encourage heathy lifestyles

    Most companies already have wellness programs due to government incentives and lower insurance premiums. Coronavirus is a convenient reason for companies to not only update their programs, but enhance them.

    Yoga is commonplace in some of the world's largest, most successful firms. WebMD recommends yoga to mitigate several conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Offering lunchtime yoga sessions lets employees know you care. Offer tea in addition to coffee in the break room. Green tea is full of antioxidants and is one of the most healthy drinks on the planet.

    Eco Office is currently doing consultations in anticipation of the lockdown ending. Give us a call today at 408-437-1700 to discuss your office furniture and design projects.

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