The Lowdown on Creating a COVID-Secure Office

Daniel Walsh

05 May 2021

Post Pandemic workplace plan page

Since the start of the first UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, the office has been a no-go area for many non-essential workers. However, over a year on, some aspects of regular day-to-day life seem to slowly be returning to some form of pre-pandemic normality. With the UK’s vaccine rollout continuing to gather pace, hospitalisation figures dropping, and some non-essential businesses starting to open their doors once more, if your employees are still working remotely, a return to the office might not be too far around the corner.

However, with the threat of COVID-19 far from over, any plans to reopen the office have to be fully thought out and well-organised.

To ward off office-based outbreaks and to ensure all members of staff remain protected and feel safe and secure in their workspace, a number of precautions need to be taken. This process is known as making your office ‘COVID-secure’ and is based on government guidelines.

To find out how to keep your office safe both right now and in the post-pandemic world, read on.

Preparing to welcome back employees

Whether your staff have been away from the office for just a few months or since the start of the first lockdown over 12 months ago, it is likely there is going to be some nerves and anxiety attached to returning to the office. As an employer, it’s important that you not only give your returning workforce a warm welcome, but that you consult with them about changes that are being made to achieve a COVID-secure workplace.

What office precautions need to be put in place?

Increased hand sanitisation

Under current guidelines, employers should aim to increase the frequency of handwashing. This can be achieved by ensuring an adequate supply of soap and water is always available and by introducing hand sanitisation stations, particularly in communal areas.

Increased surface cleaning

You must make arrangements for surfaces to be cleaned more frequently to prevent the spread of germs.

Using screens and barriers

Partitions, such as screens and barriers, should be used where appropriate to protect workers, visitors and members of the public.

Avoiding face-to-face working

Where possible, you should make arrangements for workers to work back-to-back or side-to-side instead of face-to-face.

Creating fixed teams or partners

To reduce the number of individuals that each worker comes into contact with, create fixed teams or working partnerships made up of only a few people where possible.

Improving ventilation

Steps must be taken to improve ventilation. For example, you should keep windows and doors open, adjust the fan speed to increase existing ventilation or use ceiling fans to improve air circulation wherever possible.

Face coverings

Face coverings are not mandatory in offices. However, they should be worn in customer-facing businesses such as estate agents, banks, and professional service companies.

Post Pandemic workplace plan2

Preventing the spread of germs

By putting the above precautions in place, you can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thorough and regular cleaning of the office should form an important part of your approach to warding off transmission. But exactly how can you achieve good standards of cleanliness in an office environment? Let’s take a closer look.

How to clean an office

To create a COVID-secure office, you will need to clean more frequently and more thoroughly than you usually do. In addition, you will need to clean surfaces that you don’t normally clean.

It’s important to identify surfaces, objects, and areas that are frequently touched, especially those that are touched by multiple people as you should pay particular attention to these when cleaning.

Examples include: doors, door handles, buttons, lightswitches, lifts, bannisters, taps, kettles, fridges, microwaves, cupboards, toilets, keyboards, printers, monitors, touchscreens, phones and desks.

You should instruct workers to clear their workstations at the end of each shift so that they can be cleaned effectively.

All you need to clean effectively are ordinary cleaning products that are suitable for the surfaces/environments you’re cleaning and clean clothes. However, you should check the product information to make sure any cleaning solutions you use are effective in killing viruses. Reusable cleaning aids such as clothes should be thoroughly washed with soap and water after each use.

Covid cleaning assets

How to clean your office chair

Soap and water are simple but effective cleaning agents for office chairs. Once you’ve cleaned the surfaces of your chair thoroughly with warm soapy water, you should disinfect them with cleaning solutions that contain at least 70 percent alcohol.

Your usual cleaning products should be fine but check the product packaging to make sure they fight viruses. You should also make sure that the products you’re using are suitable for treating the type of material you’re cleaning. For example, you may need to use upholstery disinfectant if you’re sanitising fabrics or meshes

How to keep your office clean

To create a cleaning regime that’s fit for purpose, you should clean all frequently touched surfaces at least once per day - this is known as deep cleaning - and you should also clean at different times throughout the day - this is known as periodic cleaning.

One of the most effective ways of keeping an office COVID-secure is by reducing the need for cleaning as much as possible. To do this, you need to consider how you could change working practices to limit the movement of people around the workplace and reduce the need for people to touch objects or surfaces.

For example, you could ensure that all workers are allocated a specific workstation and equipment for their use only, create small independent working groups, prop open doors (excluding fire doors) so that handles don’t need to be touched, fit automatic sensor doors, install footplates so doors can be operated with feet rather than hands and put away any spare and unused equipment.

For further guidance on reopening office spaces, get in touch for access to our free post-COVID-19 office advice.

21 0152900

Your post-COVID Office

Your office, but safer.

Two hours of free consultancy with our workplace design experts.

More Insight

↑ Back to the top