Step One of Easing Restrictions – What does it mean for the Office?
May 8, 2020 – 8.14pm
Australians have been WFH, leaving their buzzing office environments and long commutes for the home desk. The difficultly in maintaining hygiene in the office, like all work environments meant the office was not a COVID-safe place. Staff desks were seen as unhygienic, with no guard against airborne droplets, emanating from coughing and sneezing co-workers.
The National Cabinet announced today a 3-step plan to get the economy on a path back to normalcy. Step One easing still lists working-from-home as the optimum, but the language definitely opens up the possibility of offices asking staff to return, at least if active steps are taken to preserve hygiene. Active steps such as the installation of desk guards, hygiene screens to protect staff from airborne droplets. Having people return to crowded desks, with no partitions or screens is not viable. People have seen sneeze guards, made from cut to size Perspex or Plexiglass by Australian plastic fabrication factories and expect the same at the office.
Office desks without hygiene screens or sneeze guards will be deeply unpopular for returning staff, especially in the open plan office environment. A Plexiglass Screen or at least cut to size Perspex held in place to provide some barrier is vital. Faith in a hygienic workplace is pivotal in providing staff the confidence to return to work. Screening to protect against the spread of COVID is an active measure all offices and workplaces can take to protect staff.