Three Important Tips to Consider Before Reopening Your Business

Three Important Tip Before You Reopen Your Business

The federal government has recently released a downloadable document on their suggested guidelines for “Opening Up America Again”. It contains considerations for both individuals and employers as we move through what they are anticipating will be a three-phased approach to bringing back our workers. Bear in mind, state and local governments will most likely have their own recommendations and guidelines which you will need to accommodate for as well. Make sure to download a copy and give it a read through.

It also means many business owners are beginning to realize that at some point (hopefully sooner rather than later) we can start bringing our folks back to work. Not just to pick up where we left off… but to take what we’ve learned these past few months and plan accordingly to avoid a repeat in the months and years to come.

At the time of this writing, most of the United States (and the world) is still sheltering at home. Businesses of all industries and sizes are, for the most part, not operating at all or partially operating in some degree of diminished capacity. As we stay glued to our screens waiting for good news to start trickling into our feeds, we must each continue to do our part to contribute to—through socially responsible choices and behavior—the eventual eradication of this pandemic.

When this is all over… and it will be over one day, business owners should be prepared to reopen their doors and have employees come back to work. It’s time to start making sure your offices are safe, healthy, and have a work environment which accommodates for their comfort and security to be as productive as possible, as quickly as possible.

If you’re a business owner, your biggest challenge is going to be rethinking how the physical environment of your business can best (and safely) accommodate your employees’ workspaces as well as your clients/customers. We here at SKUTCHI Designs Inc. can help you with that!

Tip 1. Start Rethinking your Open Office (and Traditional Office) Environment

Use Freestanding Room Dividers to Separate Clients The days of the “open office” workspace (shared spaces, agile workspace, et al.) will most likely be considered unwise for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t necessarily mean traditional office environments are in any less need of a makeover. Areas in the workplace where people cohabit will require you to make some changes. Rooms such as receptions areas, conference rooms, break rooms, shared desking areas, call centers (BDC), accounting/administrative rooms, lounge areas etc. should be carefully re-addressed until we see early detection advances and vaccines for the COVID-19 virus.

If your business has some of these gathering hotspots, you can either repurpose them completely or look for products which can create artificial barriers between employees/customers.

Acrylic Desk Screens

For example, if you have employees who must share desk space? Consider tall, acrylic desk screens/sneeze shields and panel extenders to prevent airborne particulates from being passed back and forth.

If you have adjoining desks, consider placing wall dividers and desk partitions with laminate or glass surfaces (at least six feet in height) to prevent the unnecessary transmission of germs. It’s important partitions and dividers have non-porous or anti-microbial surfaces as they are ideal for treating regularly with disinfectants. Reception areas can also be fitted with freestanding partitions and wall dividers which create natural separations between furniture.

Just remember, preventing contamination is not solely about distance; physical separation is just as important. Spread desks and tables as far apart as possible but also remember to create barriers between those desks and tables which can be cleaned thoroughly and often.

Tip 2. Shared Responsibility for a Clean Work Environment

When employees return, make clear that everyone is in this together! All hands on deck, as it were. Yes, it will be great to finally be out of the house and back amongst your work friends and peers, but putting the safety of you and your coworkers should be thought of as a constant shared responsibility.

Workstations with Cubicle Extenders Wiping down desks, light switches, coffee stations, water coolers, sinks, door handles, filing cabinets, printer stations, guard/stair rails, fridge doors, etc. should be everyone’s mandate. A greater use of emails and virtual conferencing between workers/departments instead of group meetings and conference rooms is a good idea. If a “face-to-face” is required, make sure it is someplace where a six-foot distance can be maintained and the appropriate face masks and gloves are worn. Avoid distributing printed memos if an email can suffice. Update your office’s phone extension list and make sure all employees know how to use the phone system.

Room Partition and Room Divider Employers and senior management should have a plan for shared responsibilities and enforcement in place on day one. Make sure your staff is educated and motivated to prevent potential outbreaks. Use text messaging, eCalendars, or other forms of digital notification to remind staff at regular intervals to clean their respective areas or those common areas mentioned above. Consider gamifying or rewarding employees who are creative, consistent, and vigilant in keeping the workspace clean and disinfected.

The only way to make sure a resurgence does not occur (forcing us back into even more unprecedented layoffs, furloughs, and terminations) is for everyone to work together to do their part. Make sure that when the time comes, you’re ready to help make sure we don’t have to do this again.

Tip 3. Consult with a Professional Office Space Planner

Ultimately, at this point, no one can say with any certainty what the future holds regarding threats like COVID-19 in the workplace. But that doesn’t imply there is no way to take small steps now to prepare for any eventuality. We will most likely see a return to more compartmentalized offices in the near future and away from the “open office” concepts many business and corporations have been adopting in recent years.

Fortunately, a lot has changed with professional office space planning. Flexibility will be the key. Moving to scalable and demountable wall systems with modular cubicle workstations seems a much better bet in helping to reduce workplace infections, both now and in the future. SKUTCHI Designs Inc. specializes in the manufacturing and installation of impermanent wall systems and workstations. Let us consult with you about how best to transform potential problem areas in your office and how we can provide solutions to help keep you and your staff as safe as possible. We’ll work with you from concept to completion so you can be ready to open your doors back up for business both safety and responsibly.

Call us today (888) 993-3757 and let us get to work for you.