A new world of work awaits us and it appears to undergo a radical change, one which is permanent for a long time hereafter. The journey to go back to work begins with creating workplaces which are ‘safe zones’, ensuring first and foremost that the health of employees is protected and creating designs and structures to promote the well being of staff. This leads to a deep dive into the nature of work itself, and a re-assessment of essential roles and work arrangements. We are quickly moving towards a hybrid of face to face and virtual interactions, with the view to ensure services and products continue to be offered and promises are kept while meeting the norms of social distancing.

As we prepare to support organizations, to open their doors and welcome their staff with ease back into the workplace, we share insights and cardinal actions that employers can take to build a workplace, underpinning on the philosophies of people care and safety first.

Employer Responsibility

Sanitization of the Workplace 

  • Ensure regular deep cleaning and sanitization of all common areas and touchpoints 
  • In the case of shifts, the deep cleaning is to be repeated before every shift
  • Frequent disinfection of common areas, waiting areas, and more touch prone areas
  • Regular pest control and fumigation to b conducted
  • Prepare rosters and maintain trackers for the cleaning initiatives conducted to monitor frequency
  • Check that the chemicals and sanitizers you are using are certified cleansing agents

Helpline and Training

  • GOI-approved guidelines to identify COVID-19 symptoms and precautionary measures against it should be abundantly displayed across the office premises. 
  • Frequent drills and training of the employees with recommended social distancing of at least 6 ft among all. 
  • Make frequent announcements through emails and reminders, telling the employees to practice relevant safety guidance provided, both inside and outside the workplace. 
  • With the ICMR making initial estimates of about 80% COVID-19 patients showing zero to mild symptoms, it will be a big risk to have employees that don’t follow social distancing beyond work and don’t actively promote it in their families, especially with the elderly and children. Hence this needs to be re-emphasized at training
  • The government helpline number and Address and Contact Numbers of nearest government and private hospitals must be displayed at multiple locations 

Guidelines for the Workplace

  • Employee rosters shared with Admin teams to ensure only 30% of staff present in the workplace in one shift
  • No overlap or continuity of shifts.
  • Minimum time of an hour between shifts, to provide time for deep cleaning
  • Biometric attendance systems to be discontinued
  • Thermal screening for all- employees and visitors (in case)-to be performed
  • The floor of the office should be clearly marked with colored tape (squares or circles) at every six feet. Employees should be advised to walk strictly in those squares or circles. This will need a lot of reinforcement for everyone to get used to it. 
  • Other cues of social distancing should also be used; for instance, mark the edges of the walls and doors with colors such as red (use tape, if necessary) to discourage accidental touching
  • Have a fixed seating plan. Discontinue hot-desking. Send out a clear message to employees to adhere to assigned seats
  • Common resources such as gates, lifts, sanitizers, etc. could be handled by dedicated people.
  • Lifts should have maximum as many people facing the walls (with clear markings to stand on the lift floor) that would allow ensuring 6 ft distance among all 
  • Doorknobs and handles should either be removed or handled by dedicated staff.
  • Self-serving and other cafeteria services to be discontinued

Remain Informed

  • Regularly check District Admin’s Social Media page for updates on Containment Zones. 
  • Keep yourself updated with the various guidelines issued by the Central and State Governments. 
  • GO through the advisories by the MHA, State Govt, NASSCOM, ASSOCHAM, FICCI, CII, etc., to incorporate various best practices.

Submit a Detailed Plan For:

  • The housing of workers in premises /safe quarters 
  • Safe transportation of employees 
  • Shift staggering to avoid the rush on the road and the works 
  • Screening of workers/employees at entry 
  • Social distancing on the shop floor 
  • Safe food and water 
  • Providing appropriate PPE for all workers /staff, as applicable 
  • Safe loading /unloading of goods 
  • Other points discussed above. 

The central government has provided relaxations in lockdown 3.0 and the companies in different zones should follow the guidelines to operate seamlessly. COVID-19 is still impacting many parts of the country and businesses are affected badly. Employers and employees should follow all the government guidelines in order to stay safe. 

Employee Responsibility

Eligibility- Back to Work

Not eligible to resume work in case one or more of the following conditions are true:

  • Expectant mothers
  • Employees with chronic medical conditions
  • Traveled out of the city and got locked down there
  • Dependent on public transport for office commute
  • In case you reside in a Covid-19 hotspot or containment zone
  • If any member of the family is undergoing treatment for Covid-19
  • In case you were stuck at a different location with high Covid-19 cases and have returned recently

As You Get Ready to Leave

  • Check your temperature before heading out. In case of a fever, please stay home.
  • Download the Aarogya Setu app and follow steps to Self Assessment
  • Wear your mask as you step out of the home. Always carry a spare one.
  • ID cards are a must for identification, under the masked faces
  • Carry a pocket sanitizer and a handkerchief, always during the commute

Commute to the Workplace

  • Use of public transport is discouraged
  • Carpool with office colleagues is encouraged with the following precautions:
    • 4 wheelers- Max of 2 colleagues to a regular car or sedan
    • In case of SUV or bigger vehicles, max 3 persons are allowed per vehicle
    • In case the driver services are availed, drivers need to be trained on all rules on protection, sanitation, and social distancing
    • 2 wheelers- Only self-driven vehicles are allowed with no pillion rider.
  • Those traveling across states need to adhere to the interstate transport permissibility norms

At the Workplace 

Before You Enter Office

  • Avoid elevators if your health and physical condition permits
  • Use designated spots in elevators
  • No Id Card or Mask- No Entry
  • Maintain social distancing as you queue up for a scan
  • Thermal Scan at the entrance
  • Self-declaration

Inside the Office

  • Wear the mask at all times
  • Practice social distancing
  • No Handshakes; only Namaste
  • Restrict yourself to your workstation

Life at the workplace

  • Wash hands frequently or use the sanitiser
  • Avoid use of meeting rooms. In case necessary, use the designated spots basis the social distancing norms- 6 ft apart. No more than designated spots is allowable.
  • Customers and visitors are discouraged from visiting the office. Use of tools for meeting is a preferred option
  • Don’t dismiss a mild rise in the temperature, in course of the day. Notify your manager and immediately seek professional advice.
  • Employees are discouraged from self-medicating themselves or colleagues, even with OTC drugs such as paracetamol.
  • Smoke breaks in organizations are social-distancing disruptors.
  • Use of the cafeteria is discouraged for use of common water and tea/ coffee vending machines. Employees are encouraged to carry their meals and beverages from home, and eat at their workstations
  • It is mandatory for everyone to use Aarogya Setu app

Exposure & Protocols

  • If an employee feels sick, he or she should notify his or her manager and stay home and self-isolate until 72 hours after symptoms get better. Seek medical attention if needed
  • If an employee has fever with cough or difficulty breathing but has NOT been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and have NOT tested positive for COVID-19, you should stay home away from others until 72 hours after the fever is gone and symptoms get better
  • If an employee is sick and has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19 because you of exposure to someone with COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community
    • He or she should notify manager and stay home for 7 days from start of symptoms (if multiple symptoms, then from start of cough) OR until 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms get better, whichever is longer. If needed, seek medical attention.
    • Managers should work with the individual to identify any close contacts he or she may have had in the office in the event and to notify close contacts of potential exposure. Any close contacts should also be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor symptoms.
    • Staff to undertake additional cleaning in spaces the infected individual spent time including high touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets etc.

Protect Yourself and Others

  • Wear your ID Card and mask till you 01 reach home
  • Avoid visiting crowded places
  • Carry your own bags for shopping
  • Make e-transactions; avoid using cash
  • GOI’s 24×7 Helpline:011-2397 8046/ Email:ncov2019@gmail.com
  • List of govt approved testing labs can be accessed at https://www.icmr.nic.in/

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