After sheltering in place for the past few months, many people are anxious to return to the office.
Questions are swirling: Is their workplace safe? Are there new sanitization regulations? How will daily office habits need to change to ensure everyone’s personal health? Not having all the answers is nerve-racking.
While employers can take certain precautions to help keep their employees safe, your clients are also probably curious (or concerned) about what landlords and serviced office providers are doing to maintain healthy environments amid the coronavirus pandemic.
To help you put your clients’ minds at ease, we’ve gathered the most common back-to-work building questions and outlined how we’re proactively addressing them at WeWork.
Is it possible to maintain a healthy physical distance from colleagues in my office?
It is, with some strategic changes. Office spaces are going to be less dense than they were before, with new layouts that make smarter, healthier use of space. Employees will also likely have staggered start times to reduce foot traffic in the halls, stairs, and elevators. In China, for example, it may take one employee up to 40 minutes to get to their destination in an elevator because only two people are allowed to ride one at the same time.
At WeWork, we’re reconfiguring our spaces to reduce density and capacity in both common and private areas. In common spaces, like lounges and community desks, we have added floor stickers to indicate a safe distance for two people to stand.
We’re also staggering seating so individuals can maintain a reasonable distance from one another. Areas that once hosted four-seaters will now safely host one or two. And smaller work nooks will be reserved for just one person at a time. Wipe dispensers will be placed nearby so that members can clean surfaces before and after each use.
WeWork enables teams to expand in place. This means companies can move from a single, large workspace to multiple smaller spaces within their current building to maintain healthy physical distance. This minimizes operational disruption by letting teams work under the same roof—without risking cross-contamination.
How do I know if the building is safely sanitized?
It is essential that workplaces master their cleaning procedures. Though it’s not hard to kill COVID-19 germs, the difficulty lies in preventing them from spreading rapidly. WeWork has always offered the most comprehensive daily custodial services for our members. But in light of COVID-19, our staff has heightened cleaning and hygiene practices to align with the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other local health organizations.
We’ve increased the frequency and scope of daytime cleaning and sanitization. We now offer access to complimentary hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and gels, and alcohol sprays throughout the building, making it easier for individuals to regularly sanitize their personal areas. We have also installed touch-free soap dispensers in all restrooms and pantries. In most cases, we provide recyclable, single-use cutlery, dairy products, and condiments in the pantries. And we outfit our Community teams with masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment.
How do I know that others are following safety protocols?
Part of the challenge in stopping the spread of the coronavirus is getting everyone to do their part. It’s hard to trust that others are being responsible. It’s also hard to remember all of these new rules!
That’s why, at WeWork, we’ve implemented friendly reminders at every turn. We’ve partnered with landlords and building security to ensure safety protocols are followed throughout the entire building. We’ve created buffering signs in lobbies to ensure that people stay a safe distance from one another.
High-traffic areas like printing stations and kitchens will have clear signage to remind members to follow sanitization protocols. Many of our locations are even on the lower floors of buildings, so members can avoid using elevators if they like.
Can I be exposed to COVID-19 from the air in the building?
We know that COVID-19 spreads easily from person-to-person contact. Although masks and gloves certainly help in controlling its spread, research and data show this may not be enough. The key is to upgrade workspaces with stronger air-filtrations systems to ensure that the air quality of an indoor space is high.
Following the CDC guidelines and working with our custodial partners, WeWork is taking immediate steps to update our HVAC strategies and air-distribution systems to improve indoor air quality.
How can I stay on top of the latest WeWork health initiatives?
We are committed to the health and safety of your clients and our members. We’ll continue to share the ways we are updating our spaces and responding to this pandemic so your clients and their employees can maintain physical and mental well-being—and so we can all stay happy and healthy as we head back to work.