In the first weeks of 2020, no one expected that this year would see dramatic changes to the way we do business. But as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the United States, many office employees started outfitting their homes for full-time remote work. Now, as businesses look towards reopening their physical offices, many find themselves asking the same question: How should I prepare my space to minimize the spread of COVID-19?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have both released statements outlining policies and practices business owners might enact to minimize employee risk. They also make several recommendations for ways employers can use office furniture to minimize risk of spreading COVID-19. We’ve compiled these here in a handy guide:
Conduct a Hazard Assessment
Anyone who’s managed an office has probably heard of the OSHA-recommended hazard assessment. This annual review allows employers to identify dangerous areas in the workplace and fix them before they cause employees harm.
Before re-opening your office, the CDC recommends conducting a thorough hazard assessment in light of what we know about how COVID-19 can spread. Identify high-risk areas where employees cannot maintain adequate physical distancing, such as meeting rooms, break areas, lobbies, entrances and exits, locker rooms, and workstation pools. In these spaces, pay special attention to whether the office furniture contributes to this proximity.
Rearrange Your Furniture
Once you’ve determined high-risk areas, it’s time to rearrange your office furniture to limit the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends reconfiguring workstations to allow employees to maintain a minimum six-foot distance from each other. Try to keep employees from facing each other directly or, if this isn’t possible, consider installing partitions as a barrier against the airborne particles that carry infectious viruses and bacteria.
What about places like conference rooms, reception seating areas, or break rooms, where maintaining physical distancing is much harder? The CDC recommends removing furniture from these spaces or limiting capacity as much as possible. Encourage virtual meetings whenever possible and consider making client visits to your workspace by appointment only.
Consider the Material
In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through your office, your furniture should be regularly disinfected. The CDC recommends daily cleaning as a minimum requirement—some areas like conference rooms or check-in areas should be disinfected after every use.
When updating your office furniture, then, it makes sense to choose pieces with hard, nonporous surfaces that can be easily wiped down. Soft fabric, while attractive, is generally more difficult to adequately disinfect.
Let Us Help!
Still feeling overwhelmed when it comes to reopening your Florida workplace? Let Ajax Business Interiors help! Our highly experienced team will help you find the perfect furniture to protect your employees and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in your office.