Organizational Change WalkMe TeamUpdated March 22, 2020

How to Prevent Coronavirus at Work

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How to Prevent Coronavirus at Work

In this article, we’ll explore how to prevent the coronavirus at work, so that you and your workforce can worry about staying productive – not becoming infected.

Since the global outbreak of the coronavirus, organizations have had to undergo massive, disruptive change.

This has left many wondering how to prevent and mitigate infection while still staying productive … and in some cases, even staying in business.

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Below are some of the best methods for improving hygiene, staying disease free, and preventing transmission at the office:

Remote Working

Anyone wanting to know how to prevent the coronavirus at work should turn first to remote working.

Remote working makes many measures unnecessary, such as those discussed below.

With a remote working program, an organization can:

  • Prevent physical interactions between people, which is exactly how viruses spread
  • Avoid the need for many of the other measures discussed below, such as physical distancing
  • Reduce employees’ stress around infection from the coronavirus
  • Actually increase employee productivity, job satisfaction, and engagement

Remote working is most certainly one of the best, most comprehensive ways to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, not only for coworkers, but also for friends and family. 

However, it is important to follow best practices, such as using the right telecommuting software and providing employees with the right digital training solutions.

Social Distancing

Social distancing really means “physical distancing.”

It is important to maintain a safe distance between others during a severe outbreak such as this one.

When meeting with others, this requires that we maintain a physical distance of three feet from other people.

That extra space, according to the WHO, minimizes the risk that we will come into contact with virus-containing droplets. After all, when other people breathe, cough, or sneeze, they are expelling moisture that – if they are infected – will contain the virus.

As mentioned, telecommuting is the best way to maximize physical distance. 

However, if it is necessary to work on-site, organizations should do their best to implement a policy that includes physical distancing measures.

Hand Washing

Throughout the day, our hands accumulate a great deal of moisture, oil, dirt, grime, dust, bacteria, and viruses. 

If our hands come into contact with a live virus, then we run the risk of infecting ourselves.

However, most people simply don’t put enough time or effort into washing their hands, which is why the CDC, the WHO, and other health authorities recommend taking at least 20 seconds.

Studies have shown that washing hands for too short a time period can leave a great many germs on the hand.

There are even products, such as Glo Germ, which can be used to visually demonstrate the difference between effective hand-washing and ineffective hand-washing. Widely used by schools and hospitals alike, products such as Glo Germ show that the more time people put in to hand-washing, the more effective it is at removing germs.

However, not all of us have easy access to a sink.

When we are traveling, commuting, or ordering take-out, for instance, we certainly want to maintain good hygiene – but when sinks are not readily available, we need to turn to another option…

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer, such as alcohol gel, can remove nearly as many germs as hand-washing, at least according to one photo posted on Business Insider.

To be effective and true to its germ-killing claims, hand sanitizer should have an alcohol content of between 60% and 90%.

Most alcohol-based hand sanitizers stick to this claim, though there are certain products that label themselves “hand sanitizer,” yet do not contain alcohol content.

But since it is the alcohol that kills the germs, this is the primary ingredient to look for.

On the ingredients label, look for:

  • Alcohol
  • Ethanol
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol

Additionally, when using hand sanitizer, it is important to dispense it appropriately.

According to stem cell biologist Samantha Yammine, everyone should check the label to determine the right amount to dispense, rub it onto the hands thoroughly, then let it dry completely without rubbing any off.

With a thorough approach such as this, alcohol gel can be an effective substitute for hand-washing when soap and water are out of reach.

However, many people take these steps even further.

Face Masks

Face masks have been a source of some contention, since there is overwhelming scientific evidence that they don’t work. In fact, some have claimed that they can increase your risk of infection.

There are reasons for this:

  • Most over-the-counter face masks cannot filter out particles as small as viruses
  • Even if they could filter them out, gaps at the top and bottom of the face mask still permit the entry of normal air
  • Only certain types of medical-grade masks can filter out viruses – but those are in short supply and even medical professionals require regular training in order to fit them properly

It is important to note, however, that face masks can capture droplets, making them effective at mitigating infection risk if the mask wearer is infected.

If that is the case, and if masks attain widespread adoption – as is the case in many countries – even over-the-counter face masks can prove beneficial in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

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