As the needs of the economy become undeniable, many officers are considering reopening and assuming close-to-normal operations. If you find out that you’ll be sent back to work, you can use these tips to stay safe.
1) Wear Your Mask
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is an aerosol, and that means it can spread easily through small, enclosed environments like offices. The best way to protect yourself from exposure is to always wear a mask while you are indoors and especially when you are in a poorly-ventilated room, such as a private office.
Your mask should sit comfortably on your face. If it fits too tightly or slides around while you’re working, you might need to get a different size. Look for masks that are made from multiple layers of cotton; it should be thick enough to provide decent filtration, but it shouldn’t be so thick that you overheat.
Wear a fresh mask every day, and always keep an extra mask with you. If someone breaks social distancing and you worry that you might have been exposed, switch masks as soon as you get the chance.
2) Take Your Breaks Outside
You really shouldn’t take your mask off while you’re indoors. Still, people need breaks to eat, drink water, and get out from under that hot fabric.
The solution is to take outdoor breaks as often as your employer will allow you to. Try to step out for a few minutes once every two hours. Wash or sanitize your hands, pull your mask down, breathe the fresh air, and have a drink of water. Then pull your mask back up, wash your hands again, and get back to work.
Likewise, you should take your lunch breaks outside. Keep your distance and avoid conversations while your mask is down. As cold weather looms, talk to your employer about adding wind guards, overhangs, and other protections that will keep staff comfortable on breaks without reducing the benefits of outdoor ventilation.
3) Communicate Virtually
Coronavirus spreads person to person, so don’t have face-to-face conversations unless you have to. Even if you work in the same office as someone, it may be safer and more convenient to handle simple communications online.
Talk to your employer about finding an instant messaging solution that works for the entire office. This will allow you to maintain a steady flow of communication without disrupting other services like phone and email. Avoid meeting rooms; a closed environment full of people from different departments is a recipe for disaster.
4) Avoid Unnecessary Stops
One of the worst-case scenarios for an office environment is that someone will catch COVID-19 and bring it with them to the rest of their coworkers. You can’t control every interaction that you have, but you can definitely limit the number of chances you have to be exposed.
Resist the temptation to stop somewhere for breakfast on your way to work. If you do need to stop somewhere, try to take advantage of drive-through or curbside pickup. Avoid stepping into an enclosed indoor space, especially if there is a line inside.
5) Know When to Stay Home
2020 is not a year to be shy about sick days. If you feel even the beginnings of a head cold, stay home for at least a day. If the symptoms start to worsen, get tested, and continue to self-isolate.
You should also insist on quarantining if one of your coworkers arrives with any kind of symptoms. Quick coronavirus tests generally take around 3 days. If you’ve been exposed, you could spread countless of infections in that time. It’s much safer to have everyone work from home until the test comes back negative.
You might not have a choice to stay home from work, but you can still act as a responsible member of the community. Prioritize the health of your family, your coworkers, and yourself; if you feel sick, stay home.