The Expert Guide on Going Back to the Office

Intro: At Continental Office, we’ve been creating great spaces for over 80 years. During this time of rapid changes to the workplace due to COVID-19, we’re proud to be able to partner with Aunt Flow and Work Flow to help our clients source quality and safe PPE quickly, in addition to all of our return to work services. We’re truly grateful for those in our community who are coming together to help others get back to work safely. The following is just some of the advice we are giving to our clients to help them not only return to work safety and adhere to CDC guidelines, but also give their teams’ peace of mind.

Many of us have been working from home for the past couple of months. As states begin to open up and local governments release plans to return to the office environment, a lot of us have questions about what that looks like and what we need to do to get back into our spaces safely.

You're likely asking many questions, including the following: 

1. How do I keep my office clean and sanitized?

Many states have mandated increased cleaning and disinfecting for businesses. There are simple things you can do to meet these new standards like scheduling regular cleaning and disinfecting. Many of us have regular janitorial services, but that doesn’t always meet the new standards for disinfecting.

At Continental Office, we use special tools like foggers that disinfect all vertical and horizontal services. We also use a hospital-grade disinfectant that's on the EPA's list of disinfectants that kill bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19! Most importantly, we also make sure we communicate this to our teams. We recently did a survey and found that 96% of people expect increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols, while 90% want to better understand their company's cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

2. What's the best way to communicate changes?

Many states and local governments are also requiring that we post physical distancing and other changes via safety signage. It's critical that this communication is clear and direct when you begin to welcome employees and visitors into the workplace. Safety signage is a great way to make sure everyone who walks through your doors feels safe and confident. Below are just a few examples of things you can do:

3. How am I supposed to keep people six feet away?

By now, you're probably well into plans that determine who will remain a work-from-home workforce and who will be coming back into the office. Many companies are restructuring responsibilities to minimize the number of workers that need to be physically present. For those who will be physically present, there are a lot of ways to maintain 6 feet of social distancing using your existing footprint/furnishings.

The CDC guidelines require a minimum of 6' for physical distancing. This means you'll want 6' between the center points of every chair in the office. You'll also want to provide guidance for common and social areas as well. For instance, we're only allowing a max of 10 people to be in our very open, large lobby area at the same time. This all may sound daunting, but it doesn't have to be! See examples below as to how this can be accomplished. You can even use your existing furniture and floorplans to get started, and see what you may need to consider adding or removing as you finalize plans. Things to consider include:

Staggered Desk Assignments:
Alternating desks | No sharing | Less density per day

Dedicated Desk Assignments:
Furniture adjustments required | No sharing | More density per day

Common Areas:
Increase spacing | Add boundaries | Remove pillows, accessories, etc.

You can also reduce the occupancy of enclosed spaces like conference rooms or even convert them to dedicated workstations.

Conference rooms:
Adjust quantity and spacing of chairs | Add standing height tables

The above are just a few thought starters that can help you start to think about physical distancing within your own space. 

4. What other safety needs should I be considering?

One thing you should ask yourself is do I have adequate circulation space and sanitizer stations? Have you considered locating sanitizing stations where major pathways are located? Placing these in high-traffic areas is a great way to provide access without increasing traffic to a specific area. What about partitions and barriers that can easily delineate spaces and help with perceived safety concerns. Do you have PPE guidelines in place that your team understands and is in agreement with?

(By the way, we are working with Work Flow, of course, for both our and our customers’ PPE needs.)

There are so many ways we can start thinking about returning to work safely. Our team can help you with any of your above needs and we're happy to have a conversation to answer any questions you may have based on your state's specific guidelines and your own custom needs. If you'd like to chat with us further to see how we can help, please click on one of the links below. We'll be in touch very soon.

Ohio Businesses Click Here

Pennsylvania Businesses Click Here

Written by: Rachel Iannarino