Now that Metro Manila will be under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) this June 1, more businesses are re-opening, which means more employees are going back to work. If you’re one of those going back to the office on Monday, what extra precautions can you take to ensure that you don’t bring COVID-19 into your home?
Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself, especially if you work in an open-office environment:
Always wash your hands, especially after handling common areas or shared office items such as landline phones, coffeemakers, or doorknobs
Health experts have emphasized the importance of washing our hands regularly during the coronavirus pandemic and suffice to say, this serves as your first line of defense now that you’re going back to work. So wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Do it often throughout the day, especially after handling commonly shared items in the office such as landline phones, elevator buttons, light switches, doorknobs/handles, and even pantry items — if possible, bring and use your plates and utensils, and even dishwashing products. Do it as well before and after eating, and even after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer or alcohol with you at all times
And make sure both contain at least 60% alcohol. Use this on instances when soap and water aren’t easily accessible. These can effectively disinfect your hands in a jiffy compared to soap and water, but once you have dirt or grime build up on your hands, you would still need to use soap and water to wash all that away.
Sanitize your workspace regularly
Keeping your immediate surroundings clean is also paramount, especially considering that the average work desk has around 800 bacteria per square inch, which is roughly 14x more bacteria than an office toilet seat. We know, right? Eeew. So make it a habit to clean your workspace every morning before starting your workday. Focus on items you touch often, such as your keyboard or laptop, planner/notebook, pens, landline phone, and even your actual desk.
Try to avoid touching “high touch” surfaces with your bare hands
“High touch” surfaces are those items that get a lot of “touch” traffic, such as elevator buttons, doors, and doorknobs/handles in public places. If you need to touch any of these, try to use your elbows if possible or use a tissue or glove — and dispose of them properly ASAP.
Don’t touch your face
This is actually harder than it sounds, but do try to keep your hands away from your face, including your mouth, nose, and eyes.
Try to avoid physical contact, including hugs and handshakes
It’s a good idea to refrain from giving or receiving hugs, handshakes, and besos right now. This might be a hard thing to do especially if the other person is a close friend, but hey, it is for everyone’s safety. And chances are, they’re refraining from it as well.
Work in a secluded area or practice social distancing as much as possible
The guidelines for working under the GCQ include companies reducing their day-to-day workforce by at least half, which means that offices are less likely to be crowded. So try to practice social distancing at all times if possible. This includes maintaining a safe distance from your other coworkers and even using a separate office or cubicle if possible.
Opt for a work from home set-up, if possible
If your office allows or offers the option to work from home, then do it, especially if you can still do your tasks effectively in this set-up. Doing so will also minimize the number of people out and about in the metro and thereby lessen the risk for everyone — including yourself and your loved ones. This includes staying home if you’re not feeling well.
It might take some time to adjust to our “new normal” with the coronavirus. But the best thing we can do right now is to stay calm, keep ourselves informed, and do everything to protect ourselves and our loved ones (especially those most at risk).
Stay safe, mamas!