Digital Reporter

As the ongoing pandemic forced countless employees to work remotely, the strain and anxieties these new arrangements have had on firms forced many SMEs to question just how long they could survive under these conditions.

In a recent report by PwC Philippines, 36% of surveyed startup founders were concerned about reduced workforce productivity. With new quarantine guidelines slowly easing on-site restrictions for businesses, it’s no surprise that employers are raring for a return to the office.

With more and more employees coming out of their homes, what can employers do to make their facilities as safe as possible? KC Gamboa, AVP – Enterprise Solutions at KMC Solutions, shared a checklist during their webinar Work: To Return or Not to Return held last May 14.

1. Ensure cleanliness in your facilities.

Since COVID-19 can be indirectly transmitted through droplets on surfaces, it’s necessary for your office to be regularly sanitized. Make sure that your methods are approved by a reliable health authority, such as these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also, minimize points of contact as much as possible. One mode to explore is an RFID system for clock-in in lieu of the usual biometric access.

2. Reinforce best practices.

The cleanliness of your building is one thing; the sanitation of its occupants is another. While many best practices have been ingrained in our minds since the start of the pandemic, it’s wise to create tangible guides to reinforce these.

For example, marked pathways indicating traffic flow and proper positions can help your employees observe proper social distancing. You may also indicate the number of people allowed at a time in closed areas such as meeting rooms, and rearrange workstations so that the recommended one-meter distancing is followed.

You may also want to send out constant reminders on essential knowledge such as the proper way of washing hands and the right kinds of masks to wear. This can be done virtually such as through group emails, or through tangible materials such as posters.

3. Remind your employees to regularly monitor themselves.

“First and foremost, you have to check: are you healthy enough to go outside again?” said Gamboa. “Because we are not 100% sure [that you’ll be safe from infection], even though all sanitation exercises are being done.”

Encourage your employees to take care of their bodies by following a healthy diet, taking vitamins, exercising, and getting enough sleep. To avoid transmission, ask them to bring and regularly clean their own face masks and eating utensils. Provide disinfectants like rubbing alcohol, if possible. And if they’re experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, strictly enforce the recommended 14-day self-quarantine.

4. Keep work arrangement options open for your employees.

While you may have some employees reporting back to the office, it doesn’t mean that all of them have to. If you have certain employees who are performing well working outside the office, or are working on tasks that don’t require them to be on-site, then by all means allow them to work from home, satellite offices, or coworking spaces.

This kind of system is what Gamboa explains to be the hub-and-spoke model, wherein several facilities or “spokes” in different locations are all connected to a centralized “hub”. This could be your company’s HQ. Through this model, your company can continue operating efficiently while lessening the risk of transmission.