Social distancing recommendations are posing huge challenges for countless businesses as they plan to bring their workforces back on site - from office spaces to warehouse settings. The spread of Coronavirus remains a real risk for everyone, so safeguarding measures need to be put in place before people head ‘back to the office’ in larger numbers.
A big consideration for employers is how they manage their communal spaces and one area in particular sits at the centre - the workplace kitchen. From coffee machines to drinking water facilities and food preparation areas to shared fridges, the use of the communal kitchen space needs to be well thought out to ensure that any contamination or crowding is minimised.
As a world leading provider of commercial filtered drinking water systems, we wanted to share some helpful tips on how you can manage your workplace kitchen.
Complete a thorough clean
Before staff use the drinking water facilities you will need to ensure the area is clean and your appliances have been sanitised.
If you have a Zip HydroTap and it has been out of use for four weeks or more we recommend you also complete a filter change. We can help you get your HydroTap back up and running if it has been out of use for several weeks while in lockdown with our new one-off sanitisation and filter change offers - learn more.
Provide a routine
Government and its medical experts have advised that one of the best ways to avoid catching the virus is to keep hands clean so you should encourage staff to wash their hands or use antibacterial gel before heading to the kitchen. Conveniently, very little contact is actually required when using the HydroTap to make a drink, thanks to its easy controls and instant boiling or chilled filtered water.
Set a capacity
Depending on how spacious your workplace kitchen is, set a maximum capacity for how many people are allowed in to use the facilities at any one time. If your business is on the larger side it could be a good idea to stagger the use of kitchen facilities by departments, rooms or floors at peak times - such as the morning coffee run or lunchtime rush.
As we have all seen in supermarkets, doctor surgeries and other essential service providers over the past weeks, visualising a two metre distance is a great way to communicate social distancing rules. Use a removable strong tape to indicate where staff should stand when using the kitchen facilities and where they should wait to ensure they continue to follow social distancing guidance.
Remove the non-essentials
You need to keep your staff hydrated and drinking water facilities are an absolute must have - we all know how important that morning cuppa is. However, items such as a microwave, toaster or fridge can be put out of use until it is safer for staff to use them. Encourage employees to bring in a lunch that doesn't require chilling or heating to avoid everyone using these non-essential communal appliances.
Offer an alternative
For many the workplace kitchen is a social space where colleagues can take a 15 minute break and catch up over a cuppa. However, while we are all following social distancing measures it is wise to utilise an alternative open area for socialising, where a two metre distance can be more easily followed and the use of essential kitchen facilities can be uninterrupted.
There are challenging times ahead as we navigate going back to work and employers must ensure they put in the effort required to safeguard workforces from this tragic virus. People are understandably nervous about leaving the sanctuary of home but transparent and thoughtful adaptations to workspace facilities will instil confidence. The communal kitchen is the hub of many workplaces and sensible changes can help you keep everyone safe.