With more and more businesses choosing to opt for remote working and encouraging their employees to stay at home if they show any flu-like symptoms – the closure of office spaces and buildings is meant to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), which seems imminent.
This is not necessarily bad news, as now would be the perfect time to organise some long-delayed repairs to the office building, such as plumbing upgrades, window insulation or Gas Safety checks. However, an empty office building can raise a number of safety and security concerns, and as a business owner or manager you need to be prepared to face these new challenges and keep your office building safe, even when it is uninhabited.
While a thorough risk assessment of a building is strictly individual to the property and can also include pages of information, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you pinpoint the main safety concerns and keep your office protected while your employees are acting in the interest of public health and practising social distancing and self-isolation.
1. Hide the fact that the space is empty
This is particularly important for businesses having large, open-plan offices on the ground floor of buildings – such as Estates Agents, Recruitment Agencies and Travel Centres. If your office windows are facing the street you might want to consider adding some privacy and hide any accumulations of post and valuable objects left on display like desktops and phones. This can be easily done by adding privacy or frosted window film to your front windows, to make sure pedestrians can’t see the inside of your office.
2. Disconnect utility supplies
As your staff won’t be around to use the utilities and monitor their safety, the best advice to keep a safe office during the COVID-19 pandemic is to simply turn it all off. Make sure the electricity is turned off, and everything is unplugged from the sockets, check the taps and turn them off, and don’t forget to switch the water supply off from the stopcock as well – this can be an invaluable measure in case of a burst pipe. Last but not least – don’t let your bills pile up, in a time when every penny is precious. Ensure your radiators are turned off, and when everyone is back to work warn them to dress up warmly for the first day.
3. Secure the building
An empty office building can be a treat to thieves, with all the electronics and potentially even cash, lying around. Start by double-checking the locks, and install new ones if necessary. Install security cameras, if you don’t have them already, and ensure they are all recording properly.
Pay particular attention to your windows, as they are the weakest point of entry for thieves and vandalism. Install security window film or anti-vandal window film to keep the glass from breaking. If your office building is not located in a business district and is close to living quarters, the anti-graffiti window film could be a smart solution for those weeks when you won’t be around to supervise the building.
4. Don’t forget about fire damage
Fire damage might be considered of lesser importance when there are presumably no people in the building to cause the fire. However, a damaging fire can start outside of the building and progress in, especially when there is no one around to see. Before leaving the office, ensure your fire alarms are working properly and that someone is responsible for regularly checking the CCTV. Taking up additional insurance is also a good decision if the business can afford it.
5. Visit the office building regularly
While social isolation during the Coronavirus outbreak is advised for disease control and prevention, visiting your office building should still be possible unless stricter quarantine has been announced by the government. Prior to that, create a schedule or assign an office building manager who can make regular checks of the property. They should still adhere to the health and safety precautions advised, ensure that they sanitise hands before and after touching surfaces, and observe their personal hygiene.
If your office building is facing temporary closure, and you want to use the time to introduce some improvements, or protect the windows against vandalism and theft, make sure to get in touch with Guardian Window Film.