Now that most people have relocated back to the workplace, the big question for many bosses is how to keep their teams healthy and their business ticking over during the winter.
Covid-19 remains front of mind for many, especially as we edge towards peak virus season, leaving many employers unsure how best to protect their staff and ensure business continuity.
One of the key issues facing employers is how to maintain good air quality. More people in the office means a higher concentration of exhaled air and therefore a higher concentration of Co2. A build-up of CO2 in an area can indicate that ventilation needs improving to reduce the risk of viruses including Covid being transferred through the atmosphere.
You can open windows to ensure a steady flow of fresh air, but will that really be practical when the big freeze hits and your staff are trying to stay warm? Not judging by some of the online comments reacting to the latest Government campaign urging people to open windows at home this winter.
That’s why we have come up with the following tips and advice to help employers protect, reassure and ultimately keep their workforces as safe as possible as the weather turns colder.
1. Back to basics
It’s important to keep implementing the ‘basics’. The benefits of social distancing, frequent cleaning, supplying appropriate PPE and providing hygienic hand-washing areas, are of course all known measures that can minimise spread.
2. Embrace flexibility
If you haven’t already, introduce a long term policy that limits the number of people in an area by continuing to offer a rota-based system and also flexible working where possible. This will reduce the risk and it will also benefit employee wellbeing in other ways.
3. Walk the talk
When in-person meetings aren’t essential, encourage staff to continue to hold ‘walking meetings’ with clients and suppliers, utilising voice notes as a way to record key actions. This provides wellbeing through exercise and fitness while also minimising the risk of spreading viruses, and common colds – so it’s just a good habit to keep up as we head into the new normal.
4. Cost-effective monitoring
Consider investing in a CO₂ monitor. This operates on a simple traffic light warning system and is a low-cost solution for business owners who want to do the right thing by their employees. When there’s too much CO₂ and the red light warning sounds this means the area should be vacated and ventilated. If CO₂ levels remain consistently high this is a sign that further action might be needed.
5. When it’s too cold to open windows
A mechanical ventilation system will improve air flow by removing stale expelled air, and bringing in fresh air from outside without the need for opening windows. This better air flow improves the air quality and reduces the likelihood of breathing in harmful airborne viruses and germs.
6. Ramp up internal comms
Communicating changes on internal policies and safety measures is the quickest and easiest way to reassure staff. If you invest in a CO₂ monitor or ventilation system, be sure to communicate the intrinsic benefits to staff, as this will provide peace of mind and hopefully lead to a more harmonious working environment.