Coronavirus in the Office: FAQs Answered

Coronavirus in the Office: FAQs Answered

If your team or some members of your team are still working from the office, we rounded up some of the most frequently asked questions pertaining to COVID-19 and office workers. Read on to find out how to maximize your safety in the workplace.

 

How is COVID-19 spread?

 

COVID-19 is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets either land directly in the noses or mouths of people nearby, or may be inhaled from the air by people who are within about six feet of the infected person. This is where physical barriers come in handy; if you work in an office where each agent has his or her own cubicle with walls taller than head height, those walls can serve as a physical barrier of protection.

 

Can COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

 

The primary method by which the virus spreads is directly from person to person; it cannot survive for long on surfaces like countertops or food packages. Therefore, the CDC says that there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging. However, if you are retrieving your lunch from the communal office fridge or grabbing a snack from the break room, it doesn’t hurt to wash your hands for 20 seconds after touching these items. Also smart: Avoid sharing snacks with others. If an infected colleague is holding a bag of chips, passes it to you, and you grab the same area he or she was holding and then touch your face with that hand, you may be putting yourself at risk. All that being said, if you can avoid using the communal fridge and/or the break room at all that would be your safest option.

 

Do I need to wear a mask at the office?

 

Recent suggestions from the CDC advise that everyone wear a mask when they are in public places. A mask does not protect the wearer; rather, it serves as a barrier that can catch respiratory droplets and prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others. The CDC also stresses that a mask is not a substitute for social distancing or frequent hand washing but another measure you can take to prevent spread. If you’re going to be in the office and may interact with colleagues throughout the day, a mask is a smart preventative measure to take.

 

Are there other extra measures I should be taking?

 

Your office has likely stepped up the frequency and intensity of its cleaning protocols, but you can take extra steps for your workspace as well. The most important thing: Clean your headset, keyboard and monitor frequently! As you speak, respiratory droplets are landing on your headset, so cleaning it regularly with a disinfecting wipe is key—as is making sure no other agents or supervisors are using your headset. And if you feel sick, even just a tickle in your throat or a little more fatigue than usual, stay home and rest! You’ll be helping yourself and your colleagues by doing so.

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