Even with the recent global coronavirus outbreak, some essential businesses still function as normal. If you work for one of these organizations, whether on-site at a physical workplace or remotely from home, ensure that you take care of yourself and those around you by sanitizing areas and washing your hands. In this article, we list 20 tips for improving overall wellness within your place of work so you can prevent the spread of infection.
20 wellness tips for the workplace
Here are measures you can take to improve overall safety and wellness wherever you work:
- Sanitize your workstation.
- Keep a safe distance between you and those who appear to be sick.
- Avoid crowded areas.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing (but preferably not with your hands).
- Perform stretching exercises at your desk.
- Plan a healthy lunch.
- Avoid open bags of food.
- Take full breaks.
- Stay informed.
- Take breaks from news stories.
- Greet others from a distance rather than with handshakes.
- Clean your devices.
- Sit alone during meetings or other gatherings.
- Create and share a wellness newsletter.
- Use technology for communication rather than in-person contact.
- Exercise regularly.
- Advocate for coworkers who feel sick.
- Maintain a healthy mental state.
Sanitize your workstation
Before beginning and ending your shift, disinfect your desk, keyboard, mouse or any other objects or surfaces you come in contact with. Use EPA-approved products for cleaning, and ensure you sanitize your area well. To properly disinfect a surface, make sure you wipe it down thoroughly, including cracks and corners.
Keep a safe distance between you and those who appear to be sick
Identify individuals within your workplace or home who are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus infection, like coughing and sneezing. Even if they don't have COVID-19, they could have other contagious viruses. If contact with them or a common surface is inevitable, do not touch your face or any other surfaces until you're able to wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
Avoid crowded areas
An effective way to decrease your chances of catching the coronavirus is to limit your exposure to crowded areas. These include employee cafeterias or communal areas such as meeting rooms, waiting rooms and entryways. Practice social distancing in your workplace just as you would any public space. The recommended distance is 6 feet of space between people.
Wash your hands frequently
One of the best methods of illness prevention is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you can, post signs in restrooms and other common areas reminding others to wash their hands. Washing is especially important after touching surfaces, equipment or other people. Stock restrooms with additional hand soaps and sanitizers.
Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable
Soap and water are the primary combatants against viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19. If you can't wash your hands regularly, especially if you come into contact with shared surfaces, use hand sanitizer. Be sure to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing (but preferably not with your hands)
The best practice for covering your mouth during a cough or a sneeze is to bring your inner elbow or upper arm to your mouth. Doing so reduces the chance that germs or other bacteria reach keyboards, doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces. If you're unable to use your arm, keep tissues nearby so you can use a tissue in your hand. If you don't have access to tissues, use your hand but ensure that you sanitize it immediately by washing it with soap or using hand sanitizer.
Perform stretching exercises at your desk
Before your day begins, perform several stretching exercises to help your blood flow. Repeat this process as needed during your breaks to ensure you remain comfortable throughout the day.
Plan a healthy lunch
Bring a healthy lunch to work that has a proper balance of fruits, vegetables and proteins. Citrus fruits, fish and green vegetables are the best options for supporting your immune system.
Avoid open bags of food
If you notice open bags or containers of food in the break room or elsewhere, do your best to stay a safe distance away. According to Harvard Medical School, a recent study found that the COVID-19 virus is capable of surviving up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Take full breaks
Take full advantage of your break time to recharge and reduce stress. Get away from your workstation by taking a walk outside. If you can, take a 10- to 15-minute break once an hour and at least a 30-minute break once per shift.
New information regarding the coronavirus and other viruses is released on a daily basis. It's important to take a moment to update yourself on current events and understand any changes or news from your local officials, in addition to national sources. Be wary of misinformation by only reading trustworthy, authoritative news sources.
Take breaks from news stories
While staying informed is important, watching or reading too much news during times of crisis can increase your stress levels. Check the news once or twice a day to stay informed, while avoiding an overwhelming amount of information.
Greet others from a distance rather than with handshakes
During a pandemic, it's especially important to avoid physical contact with others. For business situations that often involve handshakes, opt for waves from a distance or other friendly greetings that do not require physical touch.
Clean your devices
Washing your hands helps you stay clean, but it's also important to clean devices you use regularly. Ensure that you clean and sanitize your devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, as much as possible. Use a damp, microfiber cloth with light soap to clean mobile phone screens. While doing so, don't let water enter any ports. Use a disinfecting wipe to clean your mouse, keyboard and headset.
Sit alone during meetings or other gatherings
Distance is essential, even at times when meetings or gatherings are mandatory. Do your best to sit away from others and keep a safe distance. Try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet if you need to share a room with others, or see if there's a remote option to join meetings online from your personal workspace.
Create and share a wellness newsletter
If you work in a managerial capacity or have the ability to send emails to the full staff, create a newsletter or regular COVID-19 update email. The best way to keep the office safe and clean is to educate all employees on current events and the best sanitization procedures.
Use technology for communication rather than in-person contact
If available, use video conferencing or chat applications to keep in contact with your team in real-time. Even if you still work within an office, choose technical services over physical meetings to keep everyone safe and secure at their sanitized desks.
Especially if you are now working remotely for the first time, set aside a short period each day for exercise, especially the kind that is aerobic. Exercising helps reduce stress levels and keeps you healthy. Try individual exercise activities, like walks, jogs or yoga.
Advocate for coworkers who feel sick
If you see or know of any colleagues who feel sick or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, contact management to let them know. It's important to allow these individuals to go home or seek medical attention. The longer they remain in the office, the more likely they are to spread the virus.
Maintain a healthy mental state
Your mental well-being is an important part of staying healthy throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Keeping a regular schedule helps you feel less anxious and stressed. Make a habit of communicating with coworkers and managers to lessen the psychological effects of social distancing. Try scheduling a short daily call or weekly meeting to maintain communication with others.