On the 11th March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of COVID-19 – more commonly referred to as Coronavirus – as a pandemic. This means the virus is now spreading significantly across the world and numbers of infections and fatalities are expected to continue rising.
Lots of measures are being implemented to stop the virus from spreading. Some businesses in the UK have asked workers to work from home, but for other businesses, that is not possible due to logistics, equipment or even data protection rules.
If you are an office worker or the manager of an office, there are things you can do to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. Here are ten of the best interventions, backed by the NHS’s Coronavirus guidance and leading medical professionals.
The NHS has repeatedly stated that washing your hands is the best way to make sure you do not contract the virus or pass it on to others. Having the virus on your hands will not directly give you the virus but continuing to touch your nose, mouth or eyes will move it into the body.
The NHS currently advises washing your hands for 20 seconds and they also state that workers should wash their hands immediately when arriving at work. As a business, it is important to enforce these recommendations and place notices within entranceways and even hand sanitizer. This will need to be done every time staff enter the building throughout the working day.
Sending Staff Home
Some staff are likely to get the common cold at this time of the year and may display the symptoms that are also known with Coronavirus cases. However, the latest UK Government advice is for anybody who feels unwell to self-isolate themselves for seven days. Businesses should grant every worker displaying symptoms or feeling unwell to stay away from the office for one week as a precaution.
The government has also made sure that statutory sick pay is available for these workers from the first day they begin their self-isolation.
Proportional Remote Working
Although some of your staff may be required to come into the office to work, it is likely that some staff members may be able to do their jobs from home. If this is the case, you should allow them to work remotely to reduce the possibility of on-site staff being exposed to the virus.
The NHS also advises that sneezing and coughing should be done into a tissue and binned immediately to prevent unknown carriers from passing it on. Doctors have explained that this is effective because the Coronavirus does not live long outside the body and will die quickly on the tissue.
Your office can encourage this behaviour by supplying tissues on every worker’s desk and placing bins nearby so they can quickly catch their sneezes or coughs and then bin the tissue afterwards.
Use Keyboard Wipes
Although the virus may not live long outside the body, hot desks may get used straight after another person. For these desks and computers that are used by different workers throughout the day, it is wise to make sure the desk and the keyboards are cleaned after each user.
This is to prevent someone touching their face and the keyboard before another person comes along and touches the keyboard and then their own face. This is crucial because the average person will touch their face more than 20 times per hour.
Do Not Rely on Masks Alone
There is a debate about the effectiveness of masks at preventing the spread of Coronavirus. Some medics are sceptical about the extent of their usefulness while others say there is some benefit.
You may wish to distribute masks to employees working in the office, but the general consensus is that hand hygiene and using tissues to catch sneezes and coughs is significantly more effective than wearing a mask.
Reducing Face-to-Face Contact
The office is usually a buzz of activity with workers navigating hallways to speak with fellow colleagues and other departments. This activity causes a lot of close contact between most staff, but it can be mitigated to prevent the virus spreading in the even that one worker has unknowingly contracted Coronavirus.
Face-to-face and close contact can be reduced by using office phones instead of speaking with people at their desk, and video messaging may be used to conduct meetings.
Cancel International Business Trips
If your business is due to go on an international business trip, postponing those plans may be a better plan of action. Even if the UK Government has not advised against travel to the country in question, there is still the possibility for your workers to contract Coronavirus while in the airport or in the other country.
If you do go ahead with an international trip, the workers who come back should self-isolate if they display any symptoms before returning to the office. You may also want to impose automatic self-isolation or remote working on those staff, considering Coronavirus carriers may not display any symptoms or take five days for symptoms to appear.
Relaying In-House Information
The previous eight tips are most effective when they are followed by all staff. This is the business’s responsibility to make sure all information is accurately relayed between departments. Daily emails should be sent out with reminders on protocol, as well as notices placed in entryways to remind staff their first task is to wash their hands.
Businesses should also make staff feel comfortable to come forward with symptoms adopting a supportive attitude, as well as making them aware of their rights to sick pay from the first day of self-isolation.
Keep Up to Date
The tips above all follow the advice of the UK Government, the NHS and comments from leading UK doctors. As Coronavirus is a new illness, researchers are learning more about it each week. This may result in new advice that is more effective.
Businesses should stay informed by using trusted sources to adapt as the latest information becomes available.
Choosing a Company To Deep Clean Your Office
If you need a reputable company to decontaminate your home or office via fogging then we can recommend CCS Services.