Best Practices for Safe Workplace Re-Entry

January 8, 2021

As many U.S. offices welcome back their workers after weeks of stay at home orders, a new set of safety practices and protocols are emerging. For companies returning to the office soon, here's a summary of best practices suggested by a few leading organizations in workplace and realty management. 

According to Comfy & Siemens, the first stage of workplace re-entry will see reduced density and number of employees in the office at any time. Many companies will opt to rotate which employees come into the office, with certain teams or cohorts given priority according to the importance of in-person collaboration to their work.

Work spaces and facilities will be redesigned to incorporate 6-foot of space for each employee, along with creating one-way traffic corridors and constricting density in shared kitchen and bathroom spaces.

To reduce touch points, mobile devices can be utilized that allow employees to enter rooms or access information with a tap of their screen. Introducing a system to book rooms and desks can ensure that only workspaces that have been properly sanitized after previous use are available in the system. Lastly, Comfy & Siemens propose that the internet of things (IoT) and Wifi analytics can be tapped to monitor density of personnel within rooms, floors and the building as a whole. 

JLL, a leading real estate services company, suggests that employers take temperature readings before granting access to anyone entering the building. Additionally, it is important to secure supply in-demand items such as personal protective equipment or disinfectant products. 

For multi-story buildings home to several companies, there will need to be building-wide protocols for elevators and permitted density levels in shared areas like bathrooms or kitchens. 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says that companies will need to create a process for employees to report COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, and develop response protocols for COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace.

Furthermore, the NAR proposes using revolving doors, sensor-enabled automatic light switches and faucets will reduce the number of touch surfaces. Decals and space demarcations in common areas should be used to establish social distancing requirements and direct the flow of foot traffic. 

For our part, Zabble is focusing on promoting safe practices for materials and waste handling in offices and commercial building, while continuing to further zero waste goals. Both safe waste handling and zero waste practices require us to correctly sort waste materials generated in the workplace. 

COVID-19 can survive for days on common materials like plastic and glass, and PPE such as masks or gloves. 

This is why, in addition to the steps proposed by Comfy, Siemens, JLL and NAR, it is important to correctly dispose of items in recycling or compost bins. Otherwise, these items could spread the virus to employees who handle waste bins, or to sanitation workers downstream who sort solid waste by hand. 

Providing clear guidelines is an essential tool for educating and reinforcing proper disposal practices. For businesses returning to the office soon, our sign-generating software allows organizations to create customized signs that reflect their priorities, and in their own voice.

Using the same software, we're also providing ready-to-print, downloadable signs with the latest safe waste handling information and behavioral nudges that we've found to be effective. 

COVID-19 is changing so many things, including how we work. With a revised work schedule, new office designs, greater utilization of mobile technology, space analytics, adapted company policies and processes to minimize exposure to COVID from every source, including waste management, the ongoing return to work can minimize risk, prioritize safety and allow businesses to get back on their feet. 


-Key Considerations for a Successful Re-entry Program:

-COVID-19: Top 10 Focus Areas For Workplace Re-Entry Checklist:

-COVID-19: Workplace Re-Entry Checklist:

-Zabble's COVID Tools: