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Four ways to support a safe return to the workplace

Bill Geary is the Executive Vice President and General Manager – Communications & Security Solutions (CSS) at Wesco International.

In what US news has called the “Great Comeback,” many organizations are bringing virtual teams back into the physical workplace. Returning to the workplace requires increased decontamination and air circulation protocols, while the need for technological advancements and cost management to reduce business and worker health risks is pressing.

In addition to the best high-performance infrastructure (including networks) to support returning teams, business leaders need ways to monitor potential exposure and ensure safe work environments.

As teams return to the workplace, having the right security and technical solutions in place can help mitigate risk and reduce operational costs.

1. Protect people and property in buildings.

In addition to providing efficiency and safety, technology in buildings can help improve workplace safety through tactics such as improved air quality and proximity monitoring for social distancing.

Physical access control can provide safer spaces as people are screened before entry, ultimately protecting people and assets within commercial buildings. It is based on three principles to authenticate people entering building premises.

1. Something you have (card access).

2. Something you know (PIN code).

3. Something you are (biometrically).

Building applications that leverage physical access control can also improve the passenger experience by personalizing user preferences in the spaces they occupy. For example, this may include climate control and lighting levels. These apps can also provide activity-based tracking to facilitate office/room booking and more efficient cleaning protocols. Through these applications, team members can feel comfortable and work efficiently as they return to the workplace.

2. Improve indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a key concern as employees return to the office. While airborne diseases are not a new concern, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of IAQ for health and safety. The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge recently issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency outlines recommendations for improving IAQ in buildings and preventing the risk of airborne virus transmission.

To help reduce the risks of indoor pollutants, optimize air ventilation and enhance air filtration. Additionally, consider disinfection technology and strategies to kill viruses, bacteria, and mold.

3. Ensure ergonomic setup in hybrid environment.

The traditional office space has changed. According Harvard Business Review, more than 90% of employers plan to adopt some sort of hybrid work model by 2022. Many organizations are considering the office and cabin hotel unit, which can be a challenge when creating an ergonomically correct workstation for each associate. Consider height-adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs that will provide a comfortable environment for hotel employees.

To reduce injuries, encourage team members to sit with a neutral posture, whether working from the office or at home. This attitude includes:

• Straight neck and wrists.

• Shoulders hang loose.

• Elbows, hips and knees at a 90 degree angle.

• Supportive lower back.

4. Clean, sterilize and disinfect while monitoring potential exposure.

Many organizations are moving toward an activity-based mechanism model for cleaning and sanitizing—for example, leveraging people-counting sensors to see how many people have accessed a bathroom or cafeteria. When a certain threshold is reached, a building management system notifies the cleaning team. On the other hand, this technology can be used to control disinfection costs by indicating which areas of the building may not have been used.

The ability to monitor potential exposure to Covid-19 is critical to ensuring workplace safety. Consider developing an emergency response and business continuity team that is trained to mobilize and implement the company’s plan for various contingencies, as well as monitor ongoing pandemic concerns and adjust protocols accordingly. Needs. Then bake it into your existing safety programs so that guidelines are properly managed and documented. Implementing social distancing and disinfection protocols and encouraging good hygiene are also ways to help reduce exposure.

In addition, educational resources are available from OSHA, including; OSHA Guide to Workplace Ventilation and an example health screening questionnaire.

Ensuring safety as teams return to the workplace

As organizations bring virtual teams back into the physical workplace, having protocols and technology in place can help ensure the health and safety of co-workers. Measures such as improving air quality, increasing disinfection and monitoring exposure are just a few ways to help team members feel safe as they return to the office.

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