If you’re set to return to the office full time, you probably have a lot on your mind. How will you make hybrid meetings work? Will your company follow all of the necessary safety protocols? Do you have a plan in place for childcare if you have school-aged kids?
And what can you do to protect yourself and others?
For now, we’ve only got an answer to that last question. This guide will give you four useful tips for a safe return to your corporate office (sorry, we’re still working on a miracle childcare solution—stay tuned!).
What you can expect in this article:
#1 Be Overly Cautious When Experiencing Symptoms
Your manager may want you back in the office full time, but not at the expense of those around you. Stay home if you’ve been in contact with any confirmed COVID-19 cases or if you feel the slightest bit ill – even if you believe it’s something other than the Coronavirus.
After having spent so much time working from home, companies already have the infrastructure in place for you to continue your duties outside the office. If everyone you work with adheres to a “better safe than sorry” mentality, you’ll collectively contribute to the health and safety of the entire office.
#2 Personal Protective Equipment
Your workplace may or may not provide supplies like gloves and face masks. Even if they do give out disposable masks, you may be more comfortable bringing your own from home.
There will be a bit of an adjustment period after working from home for so long, but here are a few tips for minimizing mask-discomfort while maintaining safe practices:
Soft fabric with adjustable straps
For your own comfort, you’ll want to purchase a mask that won’t itch or scratch you. Saje’s face mask is made of 100% organic cotton with comfortable nylon ear straps to guarantee a secure fit without pain behind the ears.
Bring multiple masks
There’s nothing wrong with wearing the same mask throughout the day, but you may start to feel uncomfortable as it becomes increasingly moist. Pack a few extras and leave them in your desk drawers to swap out as needed (just don’t forget to take them home to wash them at the end of the day).
For added comfort and easy breathing, purchase a silicone mask bracket to put between your mouth and the cloth. This expands the available breathing space and keeps the fabric from getting in your mouth as you speak.
#3 Packing Lunch & Bringing Dishware
Any communal spaces will probably be closed or limited, including the kitchen and break room or lounge. This is for everyone’s safety.
You’ll have to bring your own personal dishware to enjoy lunch from the comfort of your desk:
Use a stylish, insulated lunch tote to bring your meals to work. With this 8L bag, you’ll have plenty of space for your reusable containers, cutlery, and an ice pack if needed.
Speaking of things to pack in your lunch bag, don’t forget a reusable, sustainable utensil set.
Gone are the days where you can grab a paper to-go cup from the cabinet and fill up at the break room coffee machine. Keep your mug at your desk or cubicle and hand wash it after use.
#4 Speak Up When You Feel Unsafe
Hopefully, your company will follow all guidelines flawlessly and respect everyone’s personal space and well-being. However, we don’t all live in the fantasy world where that’s a guarantee. Even if you do, you may still feel that the new protocols are insufficient or poorly implemented.
Use your voice.
When expressing your discomfort or apprehension towards a certain situation, try to provide viable alternatives at the same time:
- Adding plexiglass between nearby cubicles
- A blended model with some people in-person and some participating virtually
- A staggered lunch break or even start and end times to reduce heavy traffic in communal spaces
You shouldn’t need to justify your desire for proper workplace protections, especially given the current climate. However, your superiors may be more receptive to your concerns when they’re accompanied by actionable solutions.
Protect Your Community
It’s okay to long for some aspects of your pre-pandemic life—it’s practically inevitable. These sudden changes have brought unprecedented challenges that we’re all still dealing with.
Returning to work is just one of many.
By joining together, we can make it to the other side even better than we were before. A safe return to work is the start of that journey.