Stay Safe When Heading Back to the Office to Work During COVID-19 Pandemic With These Tips
If you are returning back to your office to work, consider these tips to keep yourself safe.
After 18 June, as Singapore moves into phase 2 of its reopening, more of us will be headed back to our offices.
But being able to work from the office should not be taken as a sign that we can ease up on social distancing and all the COVID-19 prevention measures. The same risks that we’ve been facing continue to exist even in the office.
And here’s one thing that will certainly be different when you are in the office now — you’ll have to don a mask. Wearing masks is compulsory as long as you’re in public and workplaces are considered public areas, regardless of whether you have interaction with customers or not.
Dr Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University, suggests that you should think through your daily routine when you’re in the office. “What is it exactly that you’re doing, and what is it that you’re exposed to in an office situation?” he told CNBC Make It.
Here are some scenarios that you may face at your workplace and what you can do to stay safe when heading back to the office.
If you work in a typical CBD building, taking a lift is inevitable, unless you are willing to put in the work and climb the stairs to the floor that your office is located on.
Perhaps you are one of the lucky few whose office lifts bring you directly to the level you need to be through a tap of a card, but most of us will have to press the elevator buttons.
If your building provides hand sanitiser in the elevator, use it immediately after pressing the button. Alternatively, prepare an object, such as a pen or paper towel to press the button instead.
In a pinch, just head to the washroom to wash your hands once you exit the lift.
Keeping a germ-free workstation
The desk is where many of us usually spend most of our time in the office, so this is probably the place you’ll want to take extra care to ensure that it’s clean through regular routine cleaning, at least once a week.
While disinfectants are powerful, they are rendered less effective if there is dust or debris. So use a wet wipe or cloth to do a first round of cleaning and let it dry thoroughly, before whipping out your disinfectant solution for a deep clean.
Your workstation is not just limited to your desk, though you should give everything on it, including your keyboard and stationery, a good cleaning. Your chair is also a potential germ-filled area, so wipe down the seating surface as well as the arms and back of your chair.
The way you clean is important too as otherwise, you might cause cross-infection, where bacteria and viruses are transferred instead of eliminated. Wipe in an ’S’-shaped pattern and start cleaning from the cleanest areas to the dirtier ones.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security if your desk has a partition or you work in an office cubicle. Experiments have shown that they may not be as effective in reducing the spread of viruses as we might think.
Getting fresh air
One thing that most of us are looking forward to when we’re back in the office is the air conditioning to combat Singapore’s sweltering weather.
However, you may want to reconsider keep the aircon on all the time and instead crack open the doors and windows, and not use recirculated air, says Qingyan Chen, who studies disease spread through ventilation as Purdue University’s James. G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering in an interview with Forbes. This is because good ventilation reduces the chances of catching Covid-19.
This is usually the time that everyone looks forward to as it is a chance to catch up with colleagues over a meal. Unfortunately, for now, we may not be able to do so as dining establishments only have takeaway or delivery options.
Instead, you have to dabao, bring food from home or order in, and the best option to avoid any transmission opportunities is to eat at your desk, facing the wall or your computer.
You should also clean up and dispose of any food waste or trash immediately in the right place once you are done with your meal.
Using common spaces
When it comes to common spaces, common sense should apply and social distancing rules should apply as far as possible.
This means if you see your colleague already heading to the pantry, wait for them to leave before you enter to take what you need. And try to not share items such as sponges, utensils or plates with others; bring your own instead.
The same rules apply when using the washroom; don’t go in right after someone leaves. You should also avoid unnecessary contact with any common surfaces, and always wash your hands with soap before leaving the washroom.
Safety and hygiene experts go as far as to suggest that though everyone may be in the office, face-to-face meetings in conference rooms should not take place and that virtual meetings should be held instead.
You would also want to take extra caution when touching surfaces that many people frequently come into contact with in the office, such as doorknobs and light switches. Disinfect your hands after you touch such surfaces to be on the safe side.
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.