What it’s going to take to make office workers feel safe

A survey conducted last month by YouGov on behalf of the CIPD indicated that more than two fifths of UK workers are anxious about returning to the workplace.

As we forge a pathway to making this return, it’s clear that we can’t go back to the office as we left it. In order to meet Government guidelines and fulfill our responsibilities as employers, we have to ensure that we can provide and maintain a Covid-free zone.

Tom Cheesewright, applied futurist and author of Future-Proof your Business, comments: “Everyone is adjusting to a new environment of increased caution and continuing uncertainty. Until we have clarity about the long-term impacts of the pandemic, we need rapid and adaptable solutions to the challenges it presents, whether that’s for customers, partners, remote workers, or in the office.”

PPE office supplies

Peace of mind can be addressed for the worker, on one level, with the issue of a selection of PPE office supplies.

Designed to protect the user, gloves and face masks are likely to reassure as there is an implication that the person wearing them is adhering to guidelines. This has a secondary benefit, playing on a psychological level; seeing these items in use makes us all feel safer.

Adhering to the basic

The message hasn’t changed regarding the washing of hands and sanitization so any products related to this are of primary importance. Hand sanitization should be good quality and contain at least 70 per cent alcohol in order to be effective and anti-bacterial.

Hand sanitizer is the most basic requirement for the office going forward so we should keep a good stock and make sure that all employees are in the habit of regularly using it.

Note that in larger workspaces, it may be worth investing in foot operated sanitizing stations to avoid the amount of touch places, particularly when there are larger numbers of workers sharing a space.

There will also need to be a level of liaison with the building’s landlord to ensure that the opportunity for sanitation is provided from the building’s entrance.

Sneeze screens

It’s expected that two metres will continue to be the spacing benchmark inside the office, as well as outside, with workers seated at this distance and facing away from each other.

This distancing might not always be possible as more people return to the office over the ensuing weeks and months and many companies are considering further measures that can be introduced to ensure peace of mind.

According to a survey carried out by workplace consultant and psychology expert, WKSpace approximately one in five workers  would feel safer returning to the work environment with desk dividers or sneeze screens fitted.

Taking into account the level of interest expressed in increased safety measures during our own recent online seminars, we have developed, and are now providing, a 100 per cent recyclable, wipeable cardboard desk shield and sneeze screen which retails at a significantly reduced price when compared to the standard Perspex screens  available in the wider market.

Final note

Futurist Tom Cheesewright has the last word on the type of solutions we could be expected to engage to secure final preparations for a work place return: “The most important interventions might be simple, leveraging great design and simple materials to provide protection, reassurance, and even behavioural nudges through changes to the workplace.”

For more information on our cardboard sneeze screens and to view other PPE office supplies currently available in the Office Principles online shop.