How workplaces can protect employee health and safety as we go back to the office

 02 Jun 2020

Australia has fared a lot better than most in our fight against COVID-19 and restrictions are beginning to ease.

We’re welcoming the return of outdoor boot camps, open homes, beauty salons and gatherings with friends and family. Students are going back to school, and now – it’s almost time to go back to work.

But as the experts suggest, it’s important that we proceed with caution. There’s steps that workplaces can take to ensure employees’ health and safety as they return to work.

Promote hygiene in the workplace

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), good hygiene practices like regular handwashing and sanitising kills germs and prevents the spread of viruses, including COVID-19.

Workplaces can promote good hygiene by:
  • Placing hand sanitiser in prominent places within the workplace and regularly refilling dispensers
  • Ensuring all employees, contractors and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water
  • Displaying posters that promote regular handwashing – consider displaying in prominent places where people congregate, like around your workplace’s Zip tap
  • Regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces like counters, door handles, elevator buttons and appliances
  • Cleaning and sanitising equipment that’s been out of action with people out of the office, from air conditioning to Zip HydroTap
  • Installing contactless & touch-free handwashing and drying facilities in bathrooms

Limit unnecessary contact

As employees start moving back into the workplace it will be important that we don’t undo all the progress we’ve made through social distancing.

Workplaces can limit unnecessary contact by:
  • Welcoming employees back to work on a rotating schedule
  • Applying social distancing markings on floors to remind employees to stay at least 1.5 metres apart at all times
  • Installing screens between desks to add a further layer of protection and prevent the spread of germs
  • Continuing to make use of virtual meeting technologies like Zoom and Microsoft Teams

Remind employees of the importance of staying hydrated

According to the School of Exercise and Science at Massey University, even mild dehydration can negatively impact mood, memory and ability to focus. In addition, this study from the University of California shows that hydration boosts immunity.

In order to have a high performing and healthy team as employees begin to return to work, workplaces are wise to promote hydration.

Workplaces can remind employees the importance of staying hydrated by:
  • Displaying posters in prominent areas reminding employees to keep hydrated, like around your workplace’s Zip HydroTap
  • Providing company branded refillable BPA-free water bottles to all employees
  • Creating a hydration challenge that encourages employees to hold each other accountable on daily water intake

These simple and easy to follow steps should give workplaces peace of mind that they are as healthy and safe as possible as they prepare for employees to return in the coming weeks and months.