While working from home has become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are looking forward to heading back to the office, catching up with their colleagues and enjoying a more interactive, collaborative and social workday. With the return to the office however comes a lot of responsibility for business owners and office managers, who now have to ensure they create a COVID-safe environment that conforms with the latest rules and regulations. To make this seemingly overwhelming task a little easier, we have listed five quick steps that can help you in creating a safer workplace.*
1. COVID-19 safety plans
It is important that you check official websites such as Safe Work Australia, Australian Government Business as well as the resources made available by the NCC, and your local government to conduct a risk assessment and work out a comprehensive safety plan for your business. SafeWork NSW, for example, has an online tool that can help you develop a comprehensive plan.
Social Distancing – a term most of us weren’t familiar with pre-2020 – won’t be leaving us any time soon. The 1.5-metre rule also applies in offices but there’s more: depending on your state or territory as well as industry, physical distancing can also include requirements for there to be 4 square metres of space per person in a room or enclosed space.
3. Signs and posters
Another key element of getting your workplace ready for your employees to return is putting up signs and posters that remind workers and visitors of the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread. This includes informative signage and posters on the coronavirus pandemic, how to wash your hands and physical distancing.
4. Communication and WFH arrangements
Fostering a trusting workplace is more important than ever. To avoid further spread of the coronavirus, employees should feel comfortable calling in sick when they are unwell. They should be equipped with the tools they need to work from home in case a family member falls sick or should they come in contact with a person infected with Covid-19.
5. Hygiene and cleaning
Not only is it pivotal that the office space is cleaned regularly and thoroughly using the right products but it is also of utmost importance to provide employees and workers with disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers and ensure that there is always enough soap and paper towels stocked in bathrooms and kitchen areas. It is also advised that you place posters near handwashing facilities outlining how to correctly wash and dry hands.
*Please note, this is not an official document, it is intended as an informal guide only. Please keep up-to-date with government regulations and official statements as they become available.