Social Distancing at the Workplace

By Mel Sim

You can continue to flatten the curve even after MCO.

Ah… COVID-19 – our lives are forever changed because of this and 2020 will go down as the most eventful year of the decade. With COVID-19 comes the new buzzword – social distancing. That’s pretty much all that we’ve heard lately, and pretty much everything that everyone is doing right now.

For good reason of course. One way to flatten the curve (another catchphrase thanks to COVID-19) is by practising social distancing. This is easy to do when you #WFH but once the MCO is lifted, can we really go back to the way things were?

We don’t think so. At least not for the next few months until the cases reported come back as zero for a few days straight.

So how do you continue practising social distancing in the office where you’re face-to-face almost all day with different people? Here are some ideas:

Safe distancing measures
In view of COVID-19 and pre-MCO days, some companies have actually implemented safe distancing measures to stop the spread of the virus. For example, facing different parts of the lift away from one another, staggered working hours, staying at least one metre away from colleagues. Once you return after MCO, check to see if your company has these in place to help continue with social distancing. If not, maybe you can talk to HR and see if these can be implemented for everyone’s safety?

Meetings Only if Necessary
Before you schedule a meeting with even one of your colleagues to discuss a work matter, ask yourself if it is really necessary? Can it be done via email or the phone? Or perhaps you can have a chat over the phone first and then drop whatever necessary documents after so that she can pick up from there? The whole point of social distancing is to keep a safe distance from another individual to avoid being infected should that person be positive with COVID-19 (or you infecting someone else!). If that meeting is necessary, keep it short and limited to just 10 people.

Keep your workplace clean
Been washing your hands religiously, thanks to COVID-19? Keep it up even after the MCO is lifted! It doesn’t hurt to continue this good hygiene practice to avoid catching other viruses. While you’re at it, make sure you keep your desks clean – think of wiping it down with a disinfectant every Friday before you leave for the weekend or first thing Monday morning. Places to concentrate on? Your telephone (that’s a hotspot for bacteria and viruses), your computer keyboard, the pens you use often, and generally areas where your hands are in contact with a lot.

Keep the common areas clean too
Be a responsible employee and keep the rest of the office clean – in places like the pantry and the toilet.

Use your own things
Your own cups, your own utensils, your own telephone, your own pens… you get the idea, right? Now’s not a good time to be sharing these personal items.

Eat lunch at your table
Unfortunately, some things have to go in order to beat COVID-19, and one of this is having lunch with the gang outside. It is probably safer to take away food or bring food from home and eat it at your table for the meantime. The virus is transmitted through droplets and when you’re out eating lunch with your colleagues, laughing over some joke, who knows what droplets are landing on your food. When it’s all over, you can go back to your usual Friday lunches or Monday after-work coffee catchups.

Keep your hands to yourself
Maybe it is not such a good idea to shake someone’s hand after you introduce yourself? Or hold onto door handles when you visit a client? Keep a bottle of sanitiser on you – that liquid gold will keep you safe!

Stay at home!
Not because of MCO but because you’re not feeling well. The minute you start to feel unwell, go home and let your boss know. Monitor your condition. And even if it is just the common cold, wear a mask and amp up your personal hygiene so that your colleagues don’t feel uncomfortable around you.

Photos by Evgeni Tcherkasski and The Honest Company on Unsplash

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