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Not So Close – Social Distancing in the Office

By Robert Covington

Well, it looks like we might be going back to work. Some of us sooner than others.

If you’re like me and have isolated for more than a month, you don’t want to throw that away by going to the office with others who didn’t to the same degree. Sure, I miss seeing co-workers, but I’ve invested time in keeping clear of COVID-19 and don’t want to compromise that now.

Whatever your situation, there are a few things you can do to prevent spreading your germs and protect against picking any up while in the office.


STEP 1: Stay conscious of everything you touch

We all have daily office routines that are second nature. Think of all the surfaces you touch throughout the day. One of the many treks I take on a regular basis is to the printer.

Companies use ID cards to access their buildings. Why not use one to activate authentication on your multifunction printers, too? It’s an easily enabled feature on all Toshiba e-Studio models.

Besides protecting company secrets and getting a handle on who’s printing what, this could have the added benefit of enabling users to get their documents without having to even touch the MFP.

Ever had to thumb through a pile of unclaimed documents at the printer to find yours? With Toshiba’s ability to set up badge authentication, users can simply print documents to the “hold” queue of the device, walk up and swipe their card, and Viola!, out comes their documents right into their hands.

Here’s another idea: carry a stylus with you. It’s about time the pocket protector made a comeback anyway. Okay, maybe that’s a little overboard, but using a stylus isn’t. Use this to access the menus on the touchscreen of the MFP.

Besides avoiding potential germs from the previous user, if everyone gets on board, those tacky fingerprints all over the front panel will be a thing of the past.

STEP 2: Avoid unnecessary interactions

Even though you may be back at your desk, there are ways you can still work remotely. A previous blog “Cloud & Mobility Print in the Age of Social Distancing” discussed how technology allows you to work right from your mobile device.

With the Toshiba e-Bridge Print & Capture I can scan documents to my phone or tablet and send them securely through email, or send them directly to print. This way I avoid going to the printer myself and delivering the print to my colleague.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my colleagues, and that’s exactly why I don’t want to spread my germs to them.

STEP 3: Wear a mask

I still plan on wearing a face mask. These days you can pick something stylish that reflects your personality. Boost office morale with a mask fashion show. Maybe the prize can be a roll of toilet paper?

Or, maybe employers can provide masks for everyone with the company logo; it can be additional advertising if worn outside the office.

STEP 4: Clean, then clean some more

I’m going to use this opportunity to overclean my office space – I mean deep clean. Keep sanitizing supplies handy and stay diligent. Get rid of all clutter and keep the desktop clean. The more items that sit on your desk, the more surfaces that can be exposed to germs.

STEP 5: Wash your hands. Rinse. Repeat.

Washing your hands regularly is crucial, especially before you eat or drink. Even if I just go outside, I’ll make it a point to leave the office for lunch. I’ll try to isolate myself when I take off my mask, and distance myself from anyone who could contaminate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Okay so we’re going back to work and things are going to be a little different. If done right though, these could be best practices for the new normal.

Don’t go into it begrudgingly. The best you can do is accept the change and consider how you might turn it into a positive.

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