As the global business sector slowly acclimates to the new normal in the COVID-19 era. Many organisations cannot rely on remote work indefinitely and are tasked with balancing employee safety with business needs. One key employer concern is upholding high health standards at workplaces as staff transitions back to on-site operations. 

Below are the major updates you can make in your workplace to protect your staff’s health:

Increase ventilation in your offices: The regular circulation of fresh air is critical for a healthy environment in office spaces, especially during the era of COVID-19. Whilst the newer, demand-controlled HVAC systems do not circulate air from the outside environment, many experts recommend to switch back to traditional mechanisms to reduce the risk of virus transmission. In the absence of HVAC systems, simple steps like opening the windows will help. 

Filter indoor air: Companies can support their HVAC system with portable air purifiers, which will help eliminate airborne virus particles inside your office. Most high-quality portable air purifiers use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which reportedly capture up to 99.97 percent of particles. This measure will be particularly useful in frequently used areas, such as cafeterias or washrooms. 

Maintain a higher humidity environment: Low humidity promotes the transmission of viruses. Therefore, companies should increase their relevant settings on their HVAC systems or invest in air humidifiers to maintain optimal humidity levels. Whilst high humidity may give rise to building maintenance challenges in the future, it is safe to keep levels at 30 to 40 percent. The presence of indoor plants also helps boost humidity in enclosed spaces. 

Create a rigorous cleaning schedule: Companies should increase the frequency of their usual cleaning routines and particularly focus on disinfecting common areas, such as kitchens, conferences rooms and washrooms, as well as frequently handled objects like door handles, handrails, light switches, elevator buttons and washroom fixtures. A related key measure includes regularly restocking cleaning supplies and bathroom supplies, including soap, sanitizer and paper towels to prevent viruses from spreading. 

Encourage handwashing: There are plenty of public service announcements about handwashing for a good reason. To reduce the risk of transmission, employees must be encouraged to wash hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Putting up signs that remind employees to do this can prove useful. Hand sanitising stations should be installed at key points such as entryways and elevators throughout the premises.

As a final note, it is important to remember that HVAC and disinfection strategies are most effective when implemented with other necessary measures, such as physical distancing and staggered schedules.