Workplace Health And Safety In A Post-COVID World
Understanding The Impact COVID-19 Has Had On Workplace Operations And Employee Health And Safety.
Now more than ever, employers and businesses are making significant considerations to their workplace health and safety. In this "Post-COVID" world, indoor air quality, HVAC upgrades, and portable air purifiers have become vital tools to reduce the viral spread and improve workplace safety. If you are considering these methods as part of changes to workplace safety protocols, then read on to learn how to implement these strategies and their growing importance.
What Will The Post-COVID Workplace Look Like?
According to Gartner, HR leaders must rethink workplace and employee management, performance, planning and look more to 'experience' strategies. Previously full-time workers may move into either contract or remote working positions, which provide cost-savings for employers but bring about uncertainty in long-term job security and change the role of these former full-time employees.
HR and building managers must consider flexible work arrangements as a potential long-term strategy with contract workers and more remote employees. This means that managing workplace health and safety will be variable. Hot desks, open-concept, and shared workspaces might encourage physical security and better work-life balance.
Although, note that while there may be fewer individuals in an office at a given time, the number of shared items in an office will increase. With work being more of a social anchor and businesses needing to focus on the employee experience, employers will have to adjust policies to include these factors. Building managers should also reevaluate common spaces to see if it serves employee needs.
Reevaluating Indoor Environments For The Post-COVID Workplace
Upon returning to work in a post COVID world (or as it's dying down), employers will also need to ensure employees feel safe. This includes maintaining cleaning schedules, improving occupational safety, and ensuring that employees breathe safely. Indoor Air Quality Awareness Before and After COVID The importance of indoor air quality has always been high. Still, COVID has taught us that a clean working environment and mental health also play a significant role in our future working model.
The indoor air quality will continue to be a primary aspect of occupational health even as the COVID pandemic begins to subside. Employees will want that sense of security, comfort, and safety against infectious diseases and other safety concerns even in hybrid work scenarios. Employees will still be encouraged or required to wash hands frequently, check for COVID symptoms, perform self-assessments, and wear masks. Air purification systems can also support worker safety and social distancing as they can clean the air of most particulate matter and hazardous toxins, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Since air movement (or lack of movement) is a primary way COVID travels, many employees will still consider strong ventilation practices, filtration, and air purification a plus. Employers who have these safety measures in place might find that their employees are more willing to return to work, even if they are on a flexible working schedule. Because workplaces are transitioning to social anchors, employees still want to be a part of that social environment. Having an air purifier in place will mean they are more comfortable coming into work when they need to. They will be keenly aware of their breathing, so having a purification system in place and promoted to employees will provide a sense of calm and security.
Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?
The COVID pandemic has taught us the importance of indoor air quality, and we expect to see good air quality as a primary aspect of building and organization infrastructure. But indoor air quality is also known to contribute to one's quality of life and human health. Good indoor air quality can promote better cognitive health, respiratory health, and physical health. Most notably, poor indoor air quality can contribute to poor health, poor mental health, and poor respiratory health in several ways.
There can be both long-term and short-term health effects of indoor air pollution. Immediate health effects can be triggered by high densities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) common in furniture finishing, paint, cleaning materials and are emitted by printers and copiers. Most short-term immediate effects are respiratory and mimic symptoms of allergies and asthma. Long-term effects can also be detrimental and more challenging to stop as the health effects only show up after prolonged exposure. Things like radon and asbestos exposure are daily and have serious long-term consequences.
Managing Pollutant Sources in Post-COVID Workplace Settings
When employees return to work, they may hesitate to trust their indoor air environments. By reassuring your employees that pollutant sources are being managed, you'll find your employees are enjoying these spaces more. In addition to cleaning viral and bacterial particles, like the SARS-CoV-2 virus, air purification systems, UVD sanitization robots, and HVAC air purifiers can also trap debris, dust, pollen, allergens, mold, and VOCs.
By trapping this prevalent particulate matter, you will also be reducing the chance of exacerbated allergies and asthma, which can lead to increased sick days for some of your employees. You can also minimize the possibility of sick building syndrome, encouraging better productivity and fewer sick days. Managing pollutant sources in workplace settings is one of the best things employees can do in a post-COVID world. By keeping air cleaning devices and cleaning robots around, you'll be sending a message that your workplace is safe. You'll also be educating your employees about other harmful particulates. This shows that you care, as an employer, for your employee's health and well-being.
Finally, we recommend moving towards technological trends for cleaning and maintaining disinfection practices and technology. The Internet of Things remains the future focus of facility managers in the coming years. With innovative indoor environmental technology like UV-C Disinfection Robot and ActivePure® indoor air quality solutions, you can slowly shift your workplace into the future while maintaining a safe and clean environment.
Here are some key takeaways business leaders will need to consider when making changes to their workplace and workforce post-pandemic:
- Encourage more remote work and work-from-home flexibility.
- Implement a hybrid-working model and co-working spaces.
- Offer flexible working schedules and vacation time.
- Redesign office spaces for co-working shared desks and hybrid work.
- Encourage the use of telecommuting software.
- Reduce the volume of 9 to 5 office workers.
- Change corporate culture to encourage inclusion even when participating in hybrid-work or work-from-home models.
- Implement viral and infection control throughout workspaces.
- Install air purifiers and UV-C disinfection systems throughout offices.
- Listen to employees regarding their health and safety concerns.
- Provide extensive healthcare support and health insurance coverage.
- Complete ongoing risk assessments for health and occupational concerns.
Not sure where to start? Reach out to Sanalife today to get your customized indoor environmental quality system so that your employees can return to work safely.