More businesses are finally returning to work for all staffers, and while your warehouse may have been relying on some in-person employees throughout the quarantine period, a wider return is now in the offing. That may require you to make some changes to your operations so that everyone involved can stay safe during this transition period - no matter how long it lasts - including to the layout and use of your break areas.
The following changes should be the bare minimum you make to how your break room works, if you allow access to it at all:
1) Encourage only one or two occupants at a time
If you're going to let workers use break rooms or similar spaces, there should be strict rules about the number of people who can be in there at once, according to the law firm Hirschfeld Kraemer. Depending on the size of such an area, allowing only one or two people to use them at once is probably the best course of action, so that proper social distancing can be maintained.
2) Get rid of communal foods
Many companies help workers stay energized throughout the day with some communal snacks or drinks, but now is the time to discontinue them, Hirschfeld Kraemer noted. There's a simple reason why: You don't want workers lingering around these areas, and you don't want them needlessly increasing infection risk. Even single-serving snacks probably aren't a good idea to keep around.
3) Update the decor
Lots of companies have bright and inviting decor in their break rooms so employees feel they have a place to really unwind for a few minutes, but now is the time to change things up, according to Quill. Unfortunately, the idea of a normal break room isn't really compatible with current social distancing protocols, so it might be wise to remove furniture that encourages "hanging out" for the time being.
4) Create space
Along similar lines, it might be wise to make sure there are only a few seating options or tables, at most, to further encourage social distancing and make the whole space easier to clean and disinfect, Quill said. These are reasonable precautions that would allow for more comfort, health and safety for your workers when they are on their breaks.
5) Separate it
In some cases, your break rooms or areas might be just a small corner of the warehouse, relatively open to the ongoing activity that takes place in the normal course of business, according to Small Business Trends. In these times, and even after, it's probably a good idea to make sure those spaces are more cordoned off from your work areas so that there's less risk.
6) Make sure employees use it to get an actual break
Another thing you should aim to avoid is using break areas for any work activities - including team meetings - so that the people using it are actually able to do so unbothered and, again, safely, Small Business Trends noted. Nothing should be more important to you than your employees' health, and doing more to keep up a strong posture against the coronavirus and ensure infection risk is extremely limited remains absolutely vital.