If you’re back at the office your ‘has this been disinfected’ feelers may be working overtime, so it’s perfectly understandable to have industrial-strength hand sanitiser poised to spray at any given moment and if you’re keeping an ear out for the sound of handwashing in the restrooms. But that’s a lot to put on your shoulders when you’re already trying to do your day job.

To help lighten the load we’ve gathered some advice from a few authorities. Take a read, take a breath.

Hurdles | Office and Co | Gauteng

How to handle shared surfaces like desks and phones

Your office may have staff employed to clean certain frequently fiddled-with surfaces like the communal microwave or the front door handle. But they can only be in one place at a time. The best way to ensure surface cleanliness is to make sure the correct disinfectant or cleaning product is on standby so you can sanitise before you touch.

In terms of COVID compliance sanitising hand rub should already be available in prominent places and regularly refilled according to the World Health Organization so this should also help with frequent touching. If you’re extra cautious, we again alert you to this snazzy wristband hand sanitiser dispenser unit. But the best solve? Wash those mittens directly after.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention these are the surfaces most frequently touched and shared in an office environment. Time to become aware and have no fear! It was almost a rhyme, almost.

  • Tables
  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Countertops
  • Handles
  • Desks
  • Phones (landlines)
  • Keyboards
  • Toilets (handle and lid included)
  • Faucets and sinks
  • Touch screens (whether phone or tablet)

If you do have to share and really aren’t digging it, see if there are ways you can innovate so the shared items fall away. For example, any calls you need to take could be redirected to your cellphone if you share a landline. You could even email your company and clients requesting they only contact you on your cell. We’re sure the big bosses will understand. And, although maybe a little avant-garde, have you ever considered a lap desk? We personally own this particular bamboo tray-style laptop desk and can vouch for its awesomeness. It also means you have your own little (mobile) desk space and could even – dare we say – work outside?

Remember to wash your hands often.

How to handle office meetings if you must have them face to face

Sometimes being in the same room as the people you work with really does make things easier – quicker consensus, better understanding and next steps that don’t get lost between bad signal and mics on mute.

So if you meet with your team, bear these protocols from the World Health Organization in mind. We’ve added a bit of flair, of course.

  • Scale the meeting down so only the most essential people are included. If egos get bruised, so be it.
  • Make sure masks, hand sanitiser and tissues are available for all participants. This is becoming standard fair in most offices and should be part of your organisation’s COVID Workplace Plan. If you’re not sure what this is, take a read here.
  • Agree upfront and in writing how you plan to greet one another without touching. We doubt most offices are encouraging meeting greetings – is that a thing? – but if you do need to greet, practice the famous Cyril elbow pump (or double pump, his signature style) or simply raise a hand in greeting.
  • As far as possible place chairs at least 1 metre apart. If your boardroom or office can’t accommodate this – and we ask this honestly – can your parking lot? A study done in Japan found that the odds of someone spreading COVID in a closed environment was 7 times greater compared to an open-air environment. And if you raise a few eyebrows from the office neighbours, so what?
  • If indoors is the only option, ventilate, ventilate, ventilate. Open doors, windows etc; you name it, and it should be ajar. The same Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared these ventilation guidelines to help you out. It’s US-based, but still perfectly applicable.
  • If anyone feels unwell prior to the meeting, whether a day or a few hours before, they can either log on virtually or you can send them a meeting recording. Do they attend? That’s a hard no. They also need to head for a COVID test, self-isolate and follow the standard steps.

How to handle it when a colleague tests positive for COVID

This is what we don’t want happening but if it does, your employer should take the reins from the moment a positive test result lands on their doorstep (so to speak). They first need to report the relevant details to a range of authorities including the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the Department of Employment and Labour’s provincial chief inspectors among others.

What comes next is as follows: communicating transparently with the entire organisation about the positive result and actions the organisation has already taken, disinfecting the workspace, conducting a risk assessment of employees (which you can read more about here) and slowing letting employees come back to work as practical. The expanded steps can be found, numbered for your convenience, over here courtesy of global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.

If you’ve been in close contact with a colleague who’s tested positive, listen to the advice of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. They provide great guidance and unpack a list of frequently asked questions in clear detail. Read it all here.

Handle your health above all

The old saying goes ‘your health is your wealth’ and it’s probably printed on every medically-related pamphlet out there, but right now? Take this as gospel. If you don’t feel your office has been adequately equipped for COVID or protocols and disinfecting routines aren’t being followed (and your health is at risk), you can report it to HR – if you feel it will gain traction – or take it further and report it to a provincial support inspector. The numbers below come from the South African government Twitter account as of 6 January this year:

Province Contact number
Eastern Cape 082 908 2318
Free State 066 304 3469
Gauteng 082 900 8131
KwaZulu-Natal 060 985 9286
Mpumalanga 081 382 4008
Limpopo 082 880 4297
Northern Cape 082 802 6796
North West 082 908 2308
Western Cape 082 791 4485

The alternative (of course) is to come to Office & Co. and feel at ease in our fully COVID compliant workspaces in Joburg and Cape Town. On top of that they’re affordable, contracts are flexible and the spaces are just plain good looking.

Please complete the form below and we will get back to you soonest. We look forward to discussing your office space requirements.

    Johannesburg

    Tel: +27 11 267 0500

    Email: info@officeandco.co.za

    Cape Town

    Tel: +27 21 140 0700

    Email: info@officeandco.co.za

    Johannesburg

    Tel: +27 11 267 0500

    Email: info@officeandco.co.za

    Cape Town

    Tel: +27 21 140 0700

    Email: info@officeandco.co.za

    Please complete the form below and we will get back to you soonest. We look forward to discussing your office space requirements.