re-opening your office during covid-19

Guidelines for Re-Opening Your Office in D.C.

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    Let’s face it, 2020 has been a year like no other. With a worldwide pandemic spreading and new regulations, such as social distancing, being implemented, the coronavirus has made it an interesting start to a new decade. 

    Taking everything going on into consideration, workplace safety is at the top of everyone’s priority list. When it comes to re-opening office buildings and trying to regain some sense of normalcy in business, things like close contact have a way of making people feel a little uneasy and uncertain. However, with the proper response to the virus, there is a way to return to the worksite while prioritizing health care. 

    Re-Opening Amidst COVID-19

    Whether re-opening be a full-time or part-time position, knowing the latest regulations regarding the pandemic are a must. These protocols could help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help combat the virus enough to allow businesses to return to operating in office. 

    CDC Disinfecting and Coronavirus Regulations

    The centers for disease control and prevention has compiled a list of methods to assist in disinfecting office buildings after their temporary shutdown. These guidelines are designed to remove mold and other bacteria that may have settled on surfaces while nobody occupied the building.

    During the assessment for mold and other bacteria, the following two steps should be reviewed before anybody occupies the building again. 

    1. Checking HVAC systems via a 24-48 hour ‘flush out’ period can help determine if the ventilation systems may have become home to undetected mold or bacteria. You can determine if mold is present by musty smells and other odors. This can also be detected with a humidity meter.
    2. Testing the water supply for Legionella or Legionnaires’ disease, which can be found in stagnant or standing water, is a must. Routine flushing and water heater maintenance can help get rid of Legionella as well as prevent it from becoming a health issue in the future. 
    checking water supply before re-opening your office

    Following re-opening, both of the steps above should be monitored via weekly checks. 

    What Do Routine Checks Help With in Small Businesses

    • Water testing and maintenance to HVAC systems are advised to help ensure public health. Without the proper maintenance, your office could become a dangerous hotspot for employees with a weakened immune system, as well as cause illness to anyone spending extended period of time in the building.
    • For those at risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 or any airborne illness, OSHA has provided a standardized list of occupational safety and health standards to follow regarding personal protective equipment. This list breaks down and defines respiratory protection standards that are beneficial when following the CDC’s guidelines for re-opening. 

    BOMA Regulations

    A little more personnel directed than the CDC’s guidelines, BOMA focuses more on PPE and keeping common areas safe. Through planning and preparation, the goal is to maintain disinfection methods to allow re-entry into office buildings, while simultaneously providing suggestions on personal protective equipment. 

    Federal, State, and Local Mandates

    • Physical distancing
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Cloth face coverings and other face masks

    These have all been deemed incredibly important in the re-opening process. As little and as trivial as some of these things may seem, they’ve shown the ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    Physical distancing allows workers to keep a safe distance from each other, disabling bacteria from potentially spreading through physical contact. 

    • This could be addressed through staggered work hours, limiting personnel in meeting rooms, and even providing physical barriers to ensure everyone is following these new procedures. 

    Hand sanitizer is perfect for those moments you don’t have access to a restroom and aren’t able to properly engage in handwashing. This helps get rid of germs and other bacteria that may be clinging to the skin. 

    hand sanitizer must be provided when re-opening your office
    • For common areas such as entrances, meeting rooms, and open office space, providing hand sanitizer or wipes could be extremely beneficial.
    • Providing hand sanitizer could offer a quick and efficient method of disinfecting solutions around elevators, lobbies, and anywhere people commonly interact.

    Cloth face coverings and face masks allow staff to communicate without the risk of airborne particles spreading so much. 

    • This is important because it lowers the risk of the virus spreading by decreasing the bacteria spread.
    • Cloth face coverings and masks also can reduce the risk of the virus spreading should an associate not be showing symptoms of COVID-19.

    Additional Steps You Should Take for Re-Opening an Office in D.C.

    • Posting signage as a reminder for anyone entering the office to follow CDC and BOMA guidelines. This can provide better translation for the expectations for all personnel. 
    • Providing faqs with important information regarding new rules and regulations for in office work
    • Providing facemasks, gloves, or other PPE for each wearer. 
    • Many businesses are still operating on a curbside basis for things like pick-up orders.
    • Fist bumps or “air” fist bumps is the new trend. Remember to utilize contactless methods as often as possible
    • Implementing a team to handle the documentation and investigations for contact tracing should anyone in office test positive for the coronavirus.

    For any and all essential businesses looking to re-open the office, following state, federal, and local mandates can help slow down the coronavirus disease 2019 that’s taken over the year of 2020.

    Get Assistance With Re-Opening Your Office in D.C.

    As you approach the idea of re-opening your office, contact us at The Genau Group. Our team of real estate experts can help you determine the best methods for planning and preparing your office for re-opening, as well as assist in finding a new office that may provide safer opportunities for your business.For more information on the regulations and guidelines provided by the CDC and BOMA, please review CDC.gov. You can find plenty of tips on properly cleaning and disinfecting, as well as keep up with updated regulations. For continued updates from BOMA, please refer to BOMA.org for all official codes and standards.