With the news of a COVID vaccine becoming available in the near future, there is finally some light at the end of the quarantine tunnel. While we are still adapting to the new normal, organizations are preparing for employees to return to the office. This is a big step and should be approached by taking every precaution.
Although a return to normality is in sight, there are still strict regulations that must be followed to ensure the safety of you and your staff. Policies and procedures need to be developed and implemented to minimize risk and create a suitable working environment. Office equipment, such as printer supplies, should be well-stocked and office layouts must be redesigned.
With so much to organize, it can be easy to overlook the things that were once routine. We’ve put together this list to help you keep on top of all tasks. Here are eight items that likely need to be replaced when you get back into the office.
1) Printer Supplies
Ensure you take stock of your printer supplies. Over the past year, logistics and distribution systems have been disrupted massively. So, your office will not have received its regular supply of everyday materials and equipment, potentially leaving you shorthanded.
Printer ink also tends to dry out and clog the printhead when left unused for prolonged periods. This can lead to a host of mechanical issues. To avoid irreparably damaging your printer, replace all printer ink or toner cartridges before use and perform some basic maintenance on the printer, such as lubricating spoolers.
Order printer paper, ink cartridges and toner to make sure you have an adequate supply. If you need specific items, such as HP inkjet printer ink, make your purchases well ahead of time, as there may be slower delivery than usual.
It can be advantageous to order in bulk for a couple of key reasons. It minimizes the amount of contact and interaction you and your employees make with outside organizations. It is also more cost-effective than ordering smaller amounts more frequently.
2) Cafeteria or Break Room Supplies
If your office building contains a cafeteria, kitchen or communal eating area, any perishable food items will need to be replaced immediately. Clear the cupboards and replace out-of-date food items with fresh goods. Coffee, tea, snacks and other popular foods will be well-received by returning staff members.
Although employees might not be permitted to mix and socialize over a cup of coffee like they used to, they should still have an outlet to enjoy a short break and some food.
Vending machines are potential harborers of bacteria and germs, so they should be removed from the building. Find safer alternatives for your staff to buy snacks and drinks.
Having a healthy immune system can increase your chances of fighting off infection, so consider buying a regular supply of fresh fruit and individually packaged healthy snacks for your employees.
3) Water Cooler or Drinking Fountain
It’s common for employees to share a water cooler or drinking fountain in the office. It is a convenient and cost-effective way to supply fresh water to large numbers of people. Due to COVID regulations, people are strongly recommended against this type of contact. Water coolers could potentially cause harmful bacteria to transfer between users.
Encourage staff to bring their own drinking water to work or supply fresh bottled water safely. This minimizes the potential risk of spreading germs.
If recommendations change and shared water coolers are deemed safe, you will likely need to change the water after it has been stagnant for such a long time.
4) Air Filters and Ventilation
Air filtration and sufficient ventilation have never been more important. As COVID is believed to be spread mainly through droplets in the air, your employees need the air to be as clean and fresh as possible, so your office must be properly ventilated.
Many office buildings contain old or damaged ventilation systems. If they are doing their jobs correctly, air filters become clogged over time. This hampers their performance, leading to poor air quality being circulated around the office.
Upgrade your ventilation system and replace any blocked or broken air filters to improve the air quality and flow within the building. Consider installing air purifiers to further enhance the office environment.
5) Air Conditioning System
While it is uncertain to what extent air conditioning can contribute to the spread of COVID, a defective system does nothing to improve the air quality. If your air conditioning system isn’t performing optimally, it should be professionally serviced before you return to the office.
6) Cleaning Equipment
When everyone returns to the office, sanitation efforts must be made to create a safe and healthy environment for clients and employees. Hiring a professional cleaning service is the most effective way to ensure adequate care is taken.
Whether or not your office is being cleaned by professionals, you’ll need to frequently replace cleaning supplies. All surfaces, equipment and workstations must be disinfected and cleaned regularly. Staff should bear some responsibility for sanitation practices, but it is up to the business owner to provide the equipment.
7) Shared Equipment and Operations
Clock-in machines, computers, printers and photocopiers are examples of office items commonly shared among staff. While there may be a need to share some equipment, this should be reduced to a minimum.
Businesses must find other ways for staff to perform previously shared operations. For example, they can replace a manual clock-in station with a digital application.
8) Compact Workstations
Many offices maximize the use of space by setting up workstations right next to each other. To adhere to social distancing protocol, compact workstations will need to be replaced with more spacious alternatives.
Open plan designs can be used to great effect, particularly if companies are rotating the days that their staff work. Plexiglass dividers and protective equipment can be erected to maximize the safety of your office space.
Target Seamless Adaptation to the New Normal
Returning to the office after a long break and such unusual circumstances will undoubtedly be strange. It will take time to adjust to office life after the pandemic. However, through careful organization and an ample supply of office equipment, the transition can be made successfully.