Tips for Physical Distancing in the Workplace


Office workers shake hands when meeting and greet bumping elbows.

Some of us may be re-entering the workplace after several weeks, if not months, of self-isolation at home.  Naturally, both employers and staff are concerned that their work environments are adequately set up to help people to stay safe, while still remaining productive and comfortable at work. 

We wanted to help!  So, we’ve compiled this list from the various health authorities of tips for helping to physically distance in the workplace.

  1. Have sanitizing and PPE supplies (ie. masks) readily available to each employee and in high-touch areas such as by the photocopier and breakroom. 
  2. Post arrows to direct traffic in the office one-way only to avoid unnecessary contact. For example, always have people walk clockwise.  
  3. If in a cubical workspace, have every other person in a workstation to keep physically distant.
  4. Avoid shaking hands with others, and if you feel contact is absolutely necessary, try an elbow bump in lieu of a handshake.   
  5. Stay home if you are feeling unwell and avoid contact with people who are sick.
  6. Discourage the sharing of telephones, keyboards, desks and workstations, and if this can’t be avoided sanitize between users. 
  7. Conduct virtual meetings as an alternative to a face-to-face meeting.
  8. Have only a half capacity of employees be in the office at a time (working on a rotating schedule A/B rotation).
  9. Stagger start times, breaks and lunches to limit any unnecessary contact. 
  10. Suspend all group activities and gatherings for the time being.
  11. Consider bringing back employees as gradual as possible, to limit both the employer and staff from being too overwhelmed with the change in procedures. 
  12. Posting positive notes or motivational messages around the office to show you care about staff’s mental health during this time is also very important.  This can help to reduce any increase in anxiety and stress due to the new environment. 
  13. Where you can’t follow physical distancing, install barriers such as Plexiglas to separate people.
  14. Restrict visitors and limit workplace entry to only essential personnel.
  15. Consider re-arranging the office layout by moving furniture or using visual cues such as tape on the floor to enhance physical distancing.
  16. Have tissues or paper towels conveniently located to be used to turn off light switches, open doors, push buttons, etc.
  17. In the washrooms, mark off any sinks and urinals that are not at least 6-ft away from one another to ensure sufficient physical distancing.

We hope this was helpful and you find comfort in knowing that we are all in this together as we learn how to navigate these challenging times! 

Sources:

https://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en/netherlands/six-feet-office

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/mental-health.html

https://www.pshsa.ca/covid-19/rtwp