With all 50 states now in some phase of post-COVID-19 reopening, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and the increasing number of employees given the freedom to work remotely are getting geared up to return to the offices and flexible workspaces many may have left in March.
But most likely, not without some concerns.
Despite declines in the number of new cases nationwide, new infections are still confirmed daily in the U.S., and there have even been recent outbreaks reported in some cities. A coronavirus vaccine remains a work in progress, but rest assured that healthy, safe working in a shared workspace is a possibility.
Here at Metro Offices, for example, we've doubled down on our already high cleanliness standards. At each of our nine locations in and around Washington DC, communal-use areas are thoroughly washed and disinfected multiple times a day with cleaners approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their effectiveness against the coronavirus. We've installed plastic shields at reception areas, self-cleaning NanoSeptic film on door handles, and hand-sanitizer stations at even more spots throughout our offices. We've instituted a policy of "buffer times" between each of our meeting room reservations to allow for thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces. And, seating in communal areas has been moved to ensure the CDC-recommended social distance between members.
While we refine and improve the cleaning and distancing procedures we've implemented in our locations, there are additional steps we can all take to stay safe and healthy as we return to more public spaces - including offices and flexible workspaces. Below, we detail five things everyone can do to keep 'flattening the curve.'
Wash your hands
Good personal hygiene, which includes regular hand washing, has long been a known germ-killer. It can help prevent a host of ailments, not the least of which is the novel coronavirus.
“In the final analysis, it’s the hands. The hands are the connecting piece” in the battle against coronavirus, Elizabeth Scott, co-director of the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons University in Boston, told WebMD recently. “You can’t necessarily control what you touch. You can’t control who else touched it. But you can look after your own hands. ... The first thing that’s happening [when you wash] is that you’re physically removing things from your hands. At the same time, for certain agents, the soap will actually be busting open that agent, breaking it apart.”
Of course, it's easy enough to tell people to lather up at the sink, quite another to have them do it properly. Most folks, it turns out, wash their hands ineffectively. To reap hand washing's virus-smashing benefits, wash -- rubbing the palms, the backs of hands, between the fingers and under the nails, to the extent possible -- for at least 20 seconds with soapy water. (Whether it's hot or cold isn't terribly important, contrary to what we once thought.) Not sure how long 20 seconds really is? Hum a kid's-party-tempo rendition of "Happy Birthday" twice through and you're done.
Wash up after you touch any communal surface, use the bathroom, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, and before you touch your face or anyone else, as well as before you prepare or consume food. Doing so will cut down enormously on your chances of both contracting and transmitting the coronavirus.
Take those social-distancing-advisory stickers on the floors seriously, and keep your distance from other people. Expert recommendations on the exact amount of space to leave vary, but the CDC says at least six feet.
Why this number? "Six feet is the average distance that respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough travel before they settle and are no longer likely to be inhaled by other people," Krys Johnson, an epidemiologist at Temple University, recently told LiveScience.com. "As long as someone's not outwardly ill ... you should be safe maintaining a distance of six feet," she added.
Even with the social-distance-approved seating we've implemented in our common areas, we at Metro Offices understand if you want a little more space. Why not try one of our fully appointed, comfortable private offices?
Striving for good health in common-sense ways is one of the best ways to arm yourself against the coronavirus. Sleep at least seven to eight hours a night. Consume a variety of healthful foods. Don't overeat and don't smoke. Limit sweets, alcohol, and caffeine. And try to get at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity each day.
Of course, we should all adhere to these guidelines as much as possible in the best of times, but even more so now. There is an established link between COVID-19-related complications and obesity, and risk factors for contracting the illness include obesity-related ailments such as diabetes, pre-diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Multiple recent studies have supported the continued wearing of face coverings during this time. In one such study, led by a Texas A&M University professor Renyi Zhang, masks were found to go a long way in stopping the transmission of the virus.
"Our results clearly show that airborne transmission via respiratory aerosols represents the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19," Zhang told ScienceDaily. "[W]e calculated that over 66,000 infections were prevented by using a face mask in little over a month in New York City. We conclude that wearing a face mask in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent inter-human transmission. ... This inexpensive practice, in conjunction with social distancing and other procedures, is the most likely opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic."
So when you're coworking, keep your mask on and fully over your nose and mouth. Just one or the other won't cut it; carriers can spread the virus via droplets from either.
Need a change of scenery after all that quarantining? Come work at a Metro Offices space. Each of our nine locations has enhanced sanitation and cleanliness measures in place to help keep all our members safe.