Not everyone has had the luxury of working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, especially if their business was deemed essential. This distinction has caused a lot of anxiety and stress for essential workers and their peers. When tensions are high, it can be felt throughout the entire organization and creep into the relationships you have with your customers. Businesses have been taking precautions to keep their teams and clients safe and to avoid negative customer interactions.

For HYDR8 and other employers like us, our teams have operated on smaller scales or shifted completely to remote work. Still, in the beginning phases of reopening New York City, encouraging employees to social distance might be a struggle. The pre-lockdown office had a particular atmosphere about it that included water-cooler discussions and quick pop-ins at cubicles. But those days are behind us, so here are five ways to encourage social distancing with your employees.

  1. Let Some Work Remotely

As our city reopens, not everyone needs to come back to the office all at once. If some of your employees can continue to perform their regular duties from home, let them. This will help you with scheduling while ensuring that critical administrative and managerial tasks continue to get done. If you’ve found that your employees are more productive from home, then let them stay put. Give them the option to come back a couple of days a week but encourage them to minimize their contact and work from home whenever they feel it’s necessary.

  1. Stager Schedules

Bringing your employees back all at once is likely not the best idea. For the first couple of weeks, work with your executive and managerial teams to coordinate which departments can come back to the office and when. You might even stager schedules and only have a few departments onsite on certain days. Observe how your teams function with a staggered schedule, and then tweak your plans to incorporate one department at a time. Many businesses are finding that bringing back their HR and administrative teams first has been beneficial in preparing the office for other departments.

  1. Put Markers on the Floor

When your teams do return, make sure you have clear markers set around your office that indicate safe chatting distances or how many people can be in line for the vending machines. If you work in a retail shop, put arrows on the floor to indicate how the shopping flow should be and where your employees should stand if they need to speak with a customer. Markers can also be used in elevators, on escalators, or even at the breakroom table to indicate which chairs can be used safely and which ones people should leave empty.

  1. Go Touch-Free

Going touch-free doesn’t mean you don’t have to touch anything; it means you’re preventing people from using their hands as much as possible. Some offices are switching the way doors swing so that guests and employees can push doors with their feet or shoulders rather than using their hands. Others are looking for ways to make their electronics and access to water touch-free. With the use of foot pedals and automatic sensors, you can continue to guarantee that your office runs smoothly and your employees stay hydrated without sharing germs.

  1. Install Partitions

In recent weeks, the use of glass or plexiglass partitions has become a new normal. We now see these at the bank, at the grocery store, and in some retailers. These partitions can also be used in your office to encourage distance between employees, yet allowing them to coordinate and work cohesively. Partitions offer a level of protection that can often go unnoticed because they’re so nonobtrusive. You can also set up partitions between lobby chairs or down the middle of the breakroom.

Never Question Your Drinking Water

With a bottleless water cooler from HDYR8, you never have to worry about the quality of your drinking water and what’s lurking between the molecules. Our self-sanitizing holding tanks are sealed off to the rest of your office environment. Our filtration system removes sediment, germs, and chemicals more than any other filter on the market. To find your office cooler, check out our website today!

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