Vaccines may be here, but “normal” life still remains a bit out of reach.
Given the uncertainty surrounding new Covid variants, it’s important we all continue to keep our guards up.
After all, it’s hard to predict which new variants are just around the corner and when, and if, we’ll achieve herd immunity.
Another factor to bear in mind is that one in four adults are currently choosing not to get vaccinated, which makes it difficult to monitor how many unvaccinated people are entering our offices and places of work.
While the CDC recently updated its advice for fully vaccinated individuals, allowing them to resume the majority of their normal activities maskless, it’s still up to businesses to decide whether or not to maintain mask mandates for their staff and customers.
Regardless of how your business chooses to adapt to this change, we’re here to provide some tips and tricks on how you can improve the safety of your work environment and help your staff feel more confident and secure at work, whether they’re wearing a mask or not.
And, in order to give people the reassurance they need to navigate our new reality, especially in the workplace and in the face of the unknowns of the pandemic, it only makes sense to be cautious.
1. Prioritize Office Hygiene
According to a study published in April this year, handwashing compliance among medical professionals has recently dipped back down to pre-pandemic levels.
And, with some exceptions, the general public is most likely following their lead.
Although there is now evidence to prove that Covid-19 is mostly spread through airborne transmission, it’s still important we maintain the good hygiene habits we all developed in 2020.
Not only can good hand hygiene reduce the transmission of Covid-19, it’s also important for protecting the body against other infections (like the flu) and emerging health threats.
So, to prevent the spread of possible infection in the workplace, it’s a good idea for management to install enough facilities to enable staff members to wash their hands:
After touching their face
After touching their mask
Upon entering or leaving a public space
After touching an item or surface
CDC guidance says you should be scrubbing your hands for the length of time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, from beginning to end.
Where soap and running water aren’t available, it’s a good idea to have hand sanitizer gel that is at least 60% alcohol on hand.
2. Stagger Return to Office for Staff
After more than a year of working from home, it could be jarring for staff members to return to a full or busy office as soon as they’re called back to the workplace.
For this reason, it’s important businesses stagger the return of workers to make sure there aren’t too many people in the office at any one time.
One way to do this is for management to set up a rotation schedule that employees can use to sign up for the days they want to come into the office. By setting a maximum capacity, you’ll be able to monitor the number of employees that can register on any given day.
This process is also great for maintaining the option of a flexible hybrid work model that allows for both office and remote work — which is what most professionals are in favor of in 2021.
3. Physical Distancing
Under the CDC’s updated guidelines, maintaining a distance of six feet from people who don’t live in your household is no longer mandatory for fully vaccinated people. At the same time vaccination breakthroughs have recently occurred and we don’t know how long vaccines will work and if boosters are required and the schedule for same.
So, while it’s not required to cordon off desk space with red tapes anymore, in order to make your workers feel more secure, you might want to consider re-evaluating your workspace layout.
Packing too many people into an indoor space can generate anxious thoughts and feelings after more than a year of keeping our distance, even for those who are vaccinated.
For this reason, taking measures such as utilizing larger meeting and conference rooms, as well as other common areas, can really help promote physical distancing and keep workers’ minds at ease.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s now down to businesses to choose whether or not to follow the CDC’s updated mask guidelines for vaccinated individuals.
However, without vaccine passports, it’s often difficult for a company to determine whether its employees have been vaccinated or not.
This is where AllClear’s easy-to-use, HIPAA compliant Mobile COVID-19 Health Monitoring and Management Platform comes in. The platform, which can be accessed via a web app, allows your employees to log their vaccination status by uploading their vaccine records and attesting to their authenticity. The App works with people’s mobile devices to present a visual AllClear on their phone for admittance as protocols dictate.
This makes the platform an easy way for management to monitor which members of staff have been vaccinated and which haven’t.
In common areas where people — including members of the public or office guests — tend to congregate, it’s also not always possible to know whether others are immunocompromised or not fully vaccinated.
Therefore, in order to prevent uncomfortable situations, it’s a good idea to suggest masks should be kept on in specific workplace areas, such as lobbies, breakrooms, meeting rooms, and bathrooms.
In other areas of the office, those who are vaccinated can take their masks off, depending on their comfort level and closeness to others. For anyone who chooses not to be vaccinated, it’s a good idea for workplaces to set up regular Covid testing protocols.
AllClear can also help with this. Thanks to our mobile testing teams (sites and vans), we can arrive at your workplace and test your unvaccinated or immunocompromised employees on a regular basis so that they can go into the office that afternoon, or the following day, stress-free.
After members of your workforce have been tested, your management can then also use our Mobile COVID-19 Health Monitoring and Management Platform to monitor the test status of your workers. The AllClear visual for testing is also able to be shown on your mobile device.
Want to find out more about on-site COVID testing for your workforce? Get in touch to learn about our COVID workplace testing options here.
5. Update Air Conditioning and Ventilation
As part of the CDC’s “layered approach” to reducing exposure to and transmission of Covid-19, one of the steps you can take is to improve the ventilation in your workplace.
Good ventilation and clean airflow can reduce the concentration of viral particles indoors, which means they are less likely to be inhaled via the nose or mouth.
Thankfully, this doesn’t mean installing entirely new ventilation systems but instead updating them to make sure they are working to optimal capacity. Or supplementing with air purification devices that can both kill pathogens and deliver safer cleaner air to your workplace.
When considering changes to any equipment, consult heating or HVAC (air conditioning) professionals beforehand for expert opinion.
To wrap things up, back-to-work confidence depends upon the measures you take as a business to make your employees feel safe and comfortable after more than a year of abnormality.
If you are looking to effectively return to work and improve workplace confidence considering routine Covid testing for workplace population management is a sound component of your overall protocols. This way, your employees can relax in the knowledge that they are not putting themselves at risk by coming into the workplace.
Here at AllClear, we offer convenient, on-site testing thanks to our mobile teams (sites and vans), with lab-equivalent PCR accuracy, and results in minutes.
Ready to talk about planning a tailored testing schedule for your business? Contact us at AllClear HealthCare today.