We’re in the last week of the lockdown and even though there are whispers about a staggered exit, there is no confirmation on what will really happen when the 21-day period gets over. Assuming the lockdown is lifted, many of us will be venturing back to the office. While many will be rejoicing in the lifting of restrictions, it does not mean life should back to normal immediately. We’ll still have to be cautious, maybe take more precautions than before and ensure that others around us do the same. Until the government releases detailed guidelines, here are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind when you return to society:
1. Avoid mass gatherings
That doesn’t just apply to parties, weddings and temples but also your cafeteria and conferences. And while we’re sure there will be further recommendations on how many people should be allowed to assemble in an area, just generally avoiding being in a group of more than four people might be a good idea until the rate of coronavirus infection slows down in the country.
Internal as well as client meetings should still be conducted via video conferencing as much as possible.
2. Double down on hygiene practices
Staying at home during the lockdown, you may have relaxed your hygiene practices a little but they’ll have to be back at the highest level once you go back to work. Being mindful about what you touch is extremely important. Wash your hands every time you end up touching a doorknob or press the lift buttons with your bare hands. Don’t hug or shake hands with anyone, no one will think you’re being rude. Come up with your own preferred greeting – like an elbow bump or a namaste. Wipe down your desk, mouse, keyboard and screen daily with a paper towel and alcohol rub before you start work. Take a break from your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds so you don’t feel the need to rub your eyes. Avoid using shared cutlery – if you really need to use office cutlery, try to wash it yourself.
3. Distancing at work
Ensure that there is a space of six feet between all seats. The lockdown may be over but that does not mean that there is no need for social/physical distancing anymore. You spend 8-9 hours at work and must maintain a proper distance from everyone during this time, whether they seem fine or not. There are no exceptions to this rule. Avoid crowded lifts and take the staircase instead. If you need to touch the railing for support, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you reach the office – even before you set your bag down at the desk.
4. A protection and safety kit
Prepare your kit before you step out – it must include a face cover, hand sanitizer, hand soap, gloves, toilet seat sanitizer and tissue papers. Wear the face cover as much as possible – not for filtering but it’ll keep you from touching your face too often. Use a hand sanitizer whenever you can’t wash your hands. Carry hand soap in a small bottle if your workplace has a soap bar. Use gloves for whenever you need to be dealing with shared items – like the coffee machine or the office phone. Use a toilet seat sanitizer before and after you use the shared toilet. You can even use it on the tap and the flush. Carry tissue papers to sneeze or cough into, to dry your hands and to turn off the sink tap.
5. Commuting to work
Wear a face cover and gloves if you travel in public transport. If possible, use a digital wallet to make all payments instead of dealing cash. Wash your hands as soon as you reach home or office. If possible, you could request your manager to also allow you to move your shift timings enough so you can travel to work and back during non-peak hours.
This is the first article in a multi-part series on the precautions we should continue to take even after the lockdown is lifted.