Protecting Against COVID-19 in Offices and Administrative Spaces

As states around the country begin considering ways to open up their economies, youth-serving community organizations are naturally focusing much of their attention on when and if to re-open programming, and how to do so safely once that time does come. It will be important, however, to also consider ways to keep our offices and admin staff safe. Below are some considerations to keep in mind for reorganizing and managing our admin spaces and offices to limit the threat of COVID-19.

Engineering Controls

  • Keep desks/cubicles at least six feet apart from each other
  • Limit group sizes to those permitted per current regulations from the CDC and local governments at maximum—smaller if at all possible
  • Determine the maximum capacity of the office according to those same guidelines, and limit work days/shifts to ensure that capacity is not exceeded
  • Consider travel patterns within the office—are there areas where a one-way flow is required? Do you need to rethink entry and exits?
  • Install physical barriers where necessary to encourage appropriate flow throughout the office
  • Consider making common spaces (break rooms, kitchens) off-limits, or institute very frequent cleaning and more stringent controls on capacity
  • Schedule to change air filters more frequently to minimize airborne transmission, and review the National Air Filtration Association’s guidance on which filters to use
  • Consider bathroom usage and capacity

Administrative Controls

  • If possible, continue to support remote work and encourage anyone who might have concerns about their health to stay home
  • Encourage remote meetings, including if individuals are in the same building
  • Make necessary tools available to employees based on their needs—including temporary adjusted work assignments if feasible
  • Recognize that there may be fear or anxiety associated with a return to work—provide access to emotional and psychological support where possible
  • Encourage anyone who might be sick to stay home (per OSHA and CDC guidelines), and communicate the latest CDC guidance on potential symptoms
  • Consider daily temperature checks of all employees, but remember that asymptomatic individuals can also spread the virus
  • What does social distancing look like at the office? What protocols or etiquette will need to be discussed to make sure it’s followed?
  • Limit non-essential business travel
  • Update SDS sheets to include any new chemicals or cleaning products, and make sure those chemicals are on the CDC List of Approved Chemicals and that are effective against COVID. Review updated sheets with anyone handling the new chemicals.
  • Review what is and is not acceptable to ask employees under the ADA. You cannot, for example, ask about underlying medical conditions

Safe Work Practices

  • Provide access to hand sanitizer and bleach wipes throughout the office, as well as keeping soap well stocked in the bathrooms and kitchen. Also make sure that you have designated eye wash stations that are clean, well stocked and ready to be used.
  • Post signs in the bathroom to encourage frequent hand washing. Consider including educational content about why soap is so effective at killing the virus.
  • Encourage employees to wipe down work stations (include keyboard, mouse, phone and any writing utensils) to minimize transmission, and to wash their hands after they do so.
  • Ensure thorough cleaning every day according to CDC protocols, using EPA approved chemicals for COVID-19. Clean high touch areas such as door knobs, handles, handrails, faucets, keypads and touch screens more frequently.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Follow all CDC, OSHA and local jurisdictional guidance on face coverings