Three Ways To Get Back To The Office & Feel Safer At Work

We’ve been in control of our own WFH environment for a long period, but new research shows workers crave a similar safety net as more of them return to the office. And while most people (84 percent) feel their employer cares about their health and safety in the workplace, and 66 percent feel at least somewhat confident about their health and safety at work, many are worried about the shock to the system caused by office uncontrollables, and want bosses to fix them.

Three-quarters of UK workers (78 percent) are concerned about office health risks, according to the new study of more than 1,000 UK adults by sustainable hygiene innovator, Kastus. Bosses will want to stop these health anxieties metastasizing into mental health issues, as 79 percent of their staff believe the potential for virus exposure will increase their stress levels at work.

To help bosses reduce back to the office anxieties, Darragh O’Connor of nanotechnology company Kastus recommends managers do the following three things:

Disease ‘screen-ing’

While workers broadly acknowledge the enhanced safety measures bosses have put in place, 80% are concerned about shared touchscreens. In a multitouch world, touchscreens have been called the ‘mosquito of the digital age’, so no wonder they’re high on people’s list of surfaces that have yet to be tamed enough to reduce anxiety.

Since they need to be cleaned after every touch to minimise the spread of dangerous bacteria and viruses, better to invest in a sustainable solution that permanently protects touchscreens in the workplace. Solutions include those offered by Kastus which is used by the likes of Lenovo.

Band together

Different workers have different anxieties, each at various intensities. Anecdotally, Kastus’ research showed that some workers described fears of their colleagues failing to observe social distancing or effective hygiene standards, in other words, behaviours outside of their own control.

A great non-tech solution for this is color-coded wristbands or lanyards. Red means the person wants others to keep their distance and allow for ample personal space; yellow indicates they prefer using fist bumps and elbows to greet colleagues; while green signals that the person is comfortable with hugs and handshakes. The workers can switch colors anytime they want, giving them the flexibility to adjust their preferences according to different circumstances and their changing attitudes.

Employers could also have the option to take away the green bands if Covid-19 cases are on the rise. By enabling people to identify each other’s comfort level quickly, this visual scheme helps to create a welcoming office environment where colleagues can express their personal preferences and be mindful of others’ safety concerns.

Put it to the test

The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid advised employees to take advantage of Government’s free lateral flow tests. Anyone over the age of 11 can access a free lateral flow test kit, which are designed for people without coronavirus symptoms who have not been told to self-isolate.

A maximum of two kits, which contain seven tests each, can be collected from some pharmacies, community centres, and libraries, or ordered for home delivery via the Government website.

Increased testing is said to be responsible for more accurate reporting of Covid symptoms versus this time last year, and employing a regular testing regimen, say weekly in the absence of symptoms, can give you and your colleagues the peace of mind that will help soothe workplace anxiety.

Darragh O’Connor, VP of Global Marketing at Kastus, said: “It’s clear from the research that people are still concerned about the risk of catching viruses from shared spaces. Plus, they expect their employers to show they care and invest in the best possible hygiene defenses. There’s clearly a benefit for businesses to implement sustainable hygiene solutions such as the Kastus 24/7 antiviral screen protectors in terms of retention, productivity and recruitment. In fact, 77% of employees surveyed said they would feel more positive about a workplace return if that solution was in place. With less exposure to harm, and therefore less stress, it’s a simple way to encourage people back to the physical workspace.”