How To Help Employees Feel Safe Returning To The Workplace

From the very start of the pandemic, we’ve done our best as a company to strategize for our customers changing needs. Now, more than a year into the pandemic and we are seeing more and more companies opening up for business. 

This shift from remote work to at the very least, part time in-office work has led to feelings of unease and anxiety amongst the global workforce. For over a year now, employees have been working from the safety and isolation of their own home. With this transition back to normalcy, we are now seeing a need to help in the process of accommodating the influx of increased re-occupancy. One thing is for people to return to work, another thing is for people to feel normal and safe again at the place they’ve been away from for over a year. 

With that being said, from a maintenance and wellness perspective, we believe company managers can help facilitate and create a safe and clean environment that their employees can feel at ease in. 

Here are our steps to create a safe and clean environment for increased re-occupancy (from the perspective of a building maintenance company)

1. Crafting a Flexible Re-Entry Plan

We’ve covered the importance of crafting a re-entry plan in some of our other posts, however, we can’t stress enough about the importance of keeping an open mind in the re-occupancy process. At its core, a solid re-entry plan has the employee’s wellbeing as the center focus. This means every decision taken should be considered by measuring it against the question, “does this decision have my employee’s best interests in mind?”

Now, we know this is a multi-faceted situation so we’ve narrowed it down to six areas of emphasis that we have accumulated a lot of experience in successfully executing. 

  1. Occupant Limits: Enforcing occupant limits not only protects your facility throughout this drawn out process of reopening, but from an employee perspective also creates a safer and more comfortable environment to work in. 
  2. Mask enforcement: While one of the pros of working remotely is working without a mask, to best protect your work environment from unwanted spread, masks should still be worn. 
  3. Social Distancing practices: In line with all other proactive strategies, social distancing can be used throughout your facility to better protect your in-office employees. 
  4. Temperature checks: Although fevers aren’t the only symptom of Covid-19, it is a comfort for your building occupant’s to know that everyone present has been checked for fever-like temperatures. 
  5. Sanitizer and wipes easily accessible for your occupants: If you’re going to be reopening for in-office work, then you should also be equipped to provide your employees with sanitizer and wipes so that they can take care of themselves while on campus. 

Reinforcing practices: Success at times can breed complacency. With that being said, just because your Re-Entry Strategies have been successful, doesn’t mean you should ever let your guard down. The same procedures and protocols that have helped keep your facilities safe and clean should be constantly reinforced through a combination of physical and digital signage, managerial reinforcement, and if possible a point of contact representative from your maintenance team.

2. Having a daily cleaning strategy

    1. Increased cleaning cadences: Gone are the days where a thorough cleaning plan was an afterthought. Building occupants expect for their working environments to be taken care of with an increased attention to detail. In our experience, that means increasing the cadence with which your facilities are cleaned. 
    2. High Touch Point Assessment and focus: With increased foot traffic moving throughout your facilities, your cleaning team should be assessing which areas see the highest concentration of foot traffic. These High Touch Point areas should be one of the main focuses of your cleaning strategy. 
    3. Atmospheric Disinfection: With the advent of atmospheric cleaning technology, it’s hard to ignore the impact of its effectiveness. We highly recommend for the implementation of some form of atmospheric disinfection in your cleaning strategy, hence why it has it’s own stand-alone point.  
    4. Deploying a periodic deep cleaning program: Your day-to-day cleaning strategy shouldn’t be seen as an all-in-one solution. With how easily bacteria can spread throughout a facility, we are encouraging all of our customers to at the very least consider a periodic deep clean to better sanitize their working environments.
    5. Supplemental Services to in-house staff: The increased demand for cleaning services has put a strain on maintenance departments across the country. For that reason, considering supplemental services to assist your in-house staff is a viable and economical solution for your facilities needs. 
    6. Quality Assurance Testing via ATP Testing: What good is a cleaning program if you’re not measuring its effectiveness. Your working environment should be adhering to rigorous ATP Testing standards to make sure that your building is actually meeting safe and clean standards. 

3. Communicating with your occupants

The overall success of your re-entry program hinges upon not only creating a clean working environment, but also the state-of-mind of your employees and whether or not they feel at ease working on campus. That’s why communicating all of the intentional strategies being implemented behind the scenes for their wellbeing should be communicated constantly. Your employee’s should know that their collective wellbeing is the core concern of your company’s re-entry strategies. 

From a high level perspective, we feel these steps can help you in your re-entry planning process. However, keep in mind that these strategies should be flexible in nature and ready to adjust to the needs of your team. Although, we at A&A are mainly encharged with creating safe and clean environments, we are also seeing the growing need from an organizational perspective for companies to better prepare and operate with an open mind to best address the concerns their returning employees may have. 

We hope this high-level guide helps you in some way and if you need continued guidance from a cleaning and maintenance perspective, our team members are at the ready to walk through this with you every step of the way.

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