Safety First: 12 Updates Made to Public Sector Offices to Keep Employees Safe During COVID-19

by Libby Bevin on August 24, 2020

The unexpected disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic caused many organizations to work remotely for the safety of their workforce. When we asked HR teams whether their teams moved to remote work at some point during the pandemic, 93% said they had. Despite a lack of preparedness, the majority we surveyed back in May found that with flexibility, resourcefulness, and a ton of support from their IT departments, they managed to adjust and persevere.

"Through the pandemic, I learned that we learn to adapt. The pandemic forced us to incorporate other tools in our toolbox to do our jobs better."

Cynthia Razo-Porter, County of Maui

But now, as the United States continues to be the country with the most cases, many organizations are discovering what the “new normal” is for working in the office as they transition back to a communal workplace. In fact, as of the end of July, 42% of survey respondents were already back in their physical office after working remotely, and an additional 13% were planning to return within the next three months.

 

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As the HR teams who have gone back to the office find a balance between working in the office and keeping their employees safe, they have implemented safety measures. According to our survey, here are the top 12 ways public sector HR teams are minimizing exposure of the virus to their employees and the people they interface with:

  1. Allowing only essential employees onsite and, for offices that are customer-facing, seeing the public by appointment only

  2. Enforcing proper social distancing separation of six feet by separating employees with shared office spaces and designating each employee’s desk or office as their “safe space,” not to be entered by coworkers

  3. Providing and enforcing the use of personal protective gear such as masks and gloves

  4. Using staggered work schedules, such as A&B days, to ensure proper social distancing adherence

  5. Providing hardware to all employees to increase flexibility and facilitate telecommuting, such as taking a laptop home as they conform to an A&B day schedule

  6. Completing temperature checks and health questionnaires at the start of each shift

  7. Installing plexiglass barriers and sneeze guards at employees’ desks

  8. Implementing compliant digital processes and online document management to reduce paper routing and the use of communal printers that can spread the virus

  9. Cleaning of the office more often and ensuring frequent cleaning of common touched items (e.g. door knobs, copiers, light switches, microwaves, etc.)

  10. Holding conference calls even when team members are in the office together instead of convening in conference rooms

  11. Implementing new protocols for answering phones to ensure there are no shared devices

  12. Allowing work trucks to be taken home to avoid employees returning keys at the same time

Libby Bevin

Libby Bevin is a content writer and editor for NEOGOV. Libby earned a Master of Arts in English Literature and Language from Wake Forest University and a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Stetson University. Contact Libby at lbevin@neogov.net.