While many companies are still having their employees work remotely, more and more workplaces are gradually opening up and requiring in-person days. And for some industries, remote work simply isn’t an option.
So, the critical question is how can employees working in shared spaces stay safe and healthy? Based on current scientific findings, the simplest and most affordable safety measure is a cloth mask worn over the mouth and nose. According to the CDC, people in public settings should always wear masks when social distancing cannot be maintained.
How can companies make this a norm in their communal spaces? Though it can be a bit challenging to adjust to this new requirement, it’s incredibly important for the safety of our teams and the stability of our businesses.
The first step should be to inform and educate your team about mask wearing. No need to do a ton of work or reinvent the wheel here – there are a great many resources out there that explain the whys and hows of mask wearing. But you may want to put together a brief presentation that explains the reasoning behind wearing a mask.
Be sure to also include information on how to properly wear a mask for maximum effectiveness. For example, masks should always completely cover both the mouth and nose. And they should fit well to minimize gaps on the sides, button and top. The fact is if they’re not worn properly, they can’t protect you.
2. Make It Official
Make sure that your employees know that you’re not just encouraging them to wear masks at work – you’re requiring it. Share the new policy in several ways (video, email, posters, etc.) to really emphasize its importance and ensure buy-in. There’s no such thing as overcommunication when it comes to new policies that impact your team’s health and safety.
3. Model Correct Behavior
If you’re a leader in your company and you’re telling your staff that they must wear a mask properly at all times, then you should follow your own rules. Employees will look to the leaders to see how the new mask policy will be practiced. So, this is not a moment for, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
4. Provide Branded Masks
Companies that require masks to be worn at work should also provide them to their staff. Not only does this help people to follow new protocols, but it ensures a uniform and professional look at the workplace. Custom garment companies like Same Day Tees offer bulk, customized masks at reasonable prices.
Furthermore, you should provide a few masks to each employee so that they can wash them regularly and always have a fresh one to wear to work. It would also be a good idea to have plenty of extras in your workplace just in case anyone shows up without one. This way, there’s no excuse not to have the require mask on at all times.
5. Enforce the Rules
Mask policies should not be taken lightly in any workplace. The consequences of not wearing a mask are simply too serious to be ignored. When you introduce the new rule, also explain that non-compliance is not acceptable, and share the consequences for not wearing a mask or wearing one incorrectly. When health and safety are at risk, there’s no room for loose interpretation of the rules.
6. Listen & Empathize
The fact is, no one likes wearing a mask. And you may get some push-back or complaints. Rather than responding in a cold way and just reiterating the policy, try to listen and respond with empathy.
If a team member is routinely not complying, have a private conversation and ask if there’s a reason they’re finding it hard. Hear them out and acknowledge their feelings. It can make all the difference to say something like, “I understand how you feel, but we’re all responsible for keeping each other safe.”
When it comes to workplace safety during a pandemic, masks are just one piece of the puzzle. Look to official federal and state recommendations for more guidance on keeping your team safe while they do their jobs.