How to improve hygiene in the office

As we start to move back into the office during a period of widespread virus outbreaks, improving hygiene in the office is imperative. With open plan and agile workspaces, employees tend to move around the office a lot and come into contact with more people and work surfaces than ever before. Whilst this is great for collaborating and communicating, it’s not so great for hygiene!

This article will discuss all of the ways you can make your office as safe as possible.

  1. Surface wipes & anti-bacterial gels

 Generally, it is good to have a ‘leave it how you would like to find it’ attitude towards flexible and agile working offices. However, even it is appears to be tidy this does not necessarily mean it is clean!

Keyboards, monitors, desk chairs (namely the arms and handles) and all work surfaces should be wiped down with anti-bacterial wipes on a regular basis. Workers should also make use of the anti-bacterial gel before beginning their working day.

  1. Keep the air-con off!

Coronavirus and air conditioning can be a potentially deadly combination as air ducts and vents can be a safe space for the virus to cultivate, even when the rest of the building is cleaned comprehensively.

It is key to provide adequate air flow in a working environment and the safest way of doing this whilst covid-19 is still present is by opening doors and windows. As a result of this airflow you will reduce the impact of spreading the virus.

  1. Recycling and general bins

 The NHS phrase of “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it” to stop the spread of germs requires…bins! Frequent placing of office general waste bins and recycling bins throughout any workplace is important.

Therefore, it is essential that you have a number of bins around the offer to help minimise the germs that could be circulating in your office.

The Ultimate Work From Home Set-Up

If someone had told you two years ago that working from home would become the norm you would’ve never believed them. However, this has become our reality. For the best part of eighteen months we have all been sitting at the kitchen table with a bad back wondering when it will end.

At the moment it looks like many of us will continue working from home, so why not make in a space that is comfortable and makes you feel like you’re in the office?

In this article we will provide you with a few pointers on how to create the ultimate homeworker set-up. One thing that we have all been struggling with is shutting off once work hours are over as we don’t have that defined space to work, so creating a space dedicated to work will ensure you keep a healthy work and life balance.

The following items will allow you to create that perfect work environment in your home.

  1. Ergonomic chair

This type of chair has lumbar support, adjustable arms, a headset and soft/hard castors depending upon the type of floor you have.

  1. Ergonomic desk

This type of table is adjustable – change the height to suit you. This will help with both back problems and any difficulties you may have with your eyes when looking at a screen all day.

  1. Monitor arm

This will allow you to adjust your screens easily in order to suit your needs.

  1. Electrics

Set-up your desk near a plug socket – this will be essential for keeping your laptop, desktop and phone fully charged and working throughout the day.

  1. Lighting

Natural light boosts health and wellbeing. A bright room will also help reduce fatigue.

  1. Plant & Artwork

Personalised artwork and plants make the space feel nicer, more welcoming and in turn may inspire you to work!

  1. Separate Room

If possible, a separate room can help differentiate working and personal time. This will help maintain a healthy work/life balance.

  1. Work hours

Make sure you set work hours to help you maintain that work/life balance. If you go beyond these hours you are less likely to stay focused and productive.

  1. Put your office-wear on

Dressing like you would for the office helps you stay focused and motivated. Staying in your PJs all day is not good for anyone!

For more information or advice please contact us at info@millennium-si.co.uk.

 

Virtual Christmas party: ideas and games for hosting an online office party

The last thing we wanted to be doing during the Christmas season was sitting on Zoom, Skype, Houseparty or Google Hangouts instead of being able to meet up with friends and family in the flesh.

Despite a four nations agreement that allows families to meet in “bubbles” between 23 and 27 December, normal rules will stay in place for the rest of the holidays.

This means that festive parties and work celebrations are completely off the table this year, so it’s looking like a return to virtual hangouts is inevitable.

After spending nearly a whole year on Zoom, instead of meeting people face-to-face, many of us are feeling sick of the extra screen time.

Here’s a list of simple ideas that could be really fun and festive:

Cocktail making

In the same vein, virtual cocktail making is a fun activity – and who can say no to a cocktail?

Choose a tasty, but easy, cocktail recipe that participants will be able to mix, step-by-step on-screen, such as strawberry daiquiris, mojitos or espresso martinis.

Make it a competition to see who can produce the best-looking cocktail – and who makes the worst.

Christmas quiz

Zoom quizzes may be overdone, but you’ll only get one chance to organise a festive quiz so you may as well go all out.

Christmas jumper attire is encouraged, and make sure all the rounds are suitably seasonal – we’re talking classic Christmas movies and songs and festive trivia.

Virtual bingo

Bingo nights are a total crowd-pleaser, and it’s really easy to set one up virtually via Zoom or Skype.

The best part is there is no limit to the number of people who can join in, whether you have three friends or 30.

All you need to do is send bingo cards to all participants for them to print – there are plenty of free online resources.

Then, find a number generator and share your screen with everyone so they can see the numbers as they are selected.

Great Ways to Engage Your Employees This Christmas!

Decorate the office!

Surely a few Christmas decorations can’t make an entire office feel happier?

You’d be surprised how much a few bits of tinsel here, and a couple of baubles there can really pick up the atmosphere and get staff feeling excited about the holidays!

Even better… you could make Christmas decorating an annual tradition, getting the team working together and bonding over a mutual love for the festive season.

Host an Award Ceremony

Awards can be a great way to engage staff and let them know that you value their hard work.

And they don’t have to be based on targets – you don’t want to leave a proportion of your loyal workforce out – consider things like…

– The most encouraging person in the office.
– The most organised.
– The best at keeping your customers happy.
…split your awards up across teams and make sure your perceived ‘favourites’ (if there are any) don’t get more praise and credit than others.

Secret Santa

A slightly more obvious Christmas tradition, Secret Santa is an amazing way to bring your employees, across different teams, together.

Just decide on a £5-£10 limit and then pick a day for the ‘big reveal’ and you’re sorted!

Let Your Staff Leave Early

A great incentive and reward scheme that works specifically well for salespeople is allowing them to finish work early for the Christmas holiday if they hit an (achievable) target.

Whether it’s on 1st December (you’d hope not…) or 23rd, when they’ve hit the target, let them go home until January!

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way a lot of people work

Earlier this year, many companies closed their offices and shifted their staff to remote work due to health and safety concerns. And while remote work has been a mixed bag, it’s also proven itself as a viable model for companies in almost every segment of the market.

That opens the door to a world of flexibility for companies going forward. But it also puts office buildings in real danger.

Office building demand could wane to a dangerous degree

When employees were first told to pack up their desks and work remotely back in February and March, many assumed it would last a few weeks. But now, nine months later, many companies are realizing remote work is a sustainable model, with the potential for major cost savings. If workers can maintain productivity from afar, businesses can spend less on office space.

A good 68% of large-company CEOs say they now plan to downsize their office space, according to a survey by KPMG. And that’s not just in response to the pandemic.

LONG-TERM OFFICE LEASES COULD BE HISTORY

Those who are considering returning to the office are doing so cautiously due to the uncertainty of lease commitments and health protocols.

The last several months have left workers reeling as many were forced to work from home to stay safe from the ongoing pandemic. Real estate technology firm Yardi recently conducted a survey recently that revealed office users are still skeptical about what the workplace will look like in the future.

“Occupancy is around 86% nationwide,” said Rao. “It was generally flat up until a month and a half ago. In the last month, it dropped 0.3%, which is a large monthly drop. What we are finding is that for many leases that are expiring, generally what’s happening is the tenants are holding onto the space, and they are not wanting to make any rash decisions one way or another.”

The overall theme of the market is uncertainty. The demands of offices have evolved since the beginning of the year. Now, tenants want touchless technology, outdoor areas and air filtrations systems to ensure that their health is protected.

Additionally, the relationship between landlords and tenants is bound to transform as short-term, flexible leases grow in demand.

Pandemic-proofing offices

Pandemic-proofing offices could involve short-term fixes, new working patterns and long-term design upgrades that put hygiene at the heart of workplace planning.

Mitigate the risk 

The biggest priority and challenge for post coronavirus offices is controlling the infection.
How can we control contamination in open plan high density offices?
How can we control infection in hot desking environments?
Or communal and social spaces?
The challenges are many. We have to respond to COVID-19 crisis and mitigate the infection risk by introducing new safety features and measures and improving sanitisation and disinfection processes in our offices. It’s a big change that will create new work styles and build new working culture which we need to be prepared for.

2M rule

We have created some illustrations showing ways of changing office desk configurations to create greater space between your team members.

Here are some points to consider when you are thinking about re-configuring your office:

  • Can you turn back-to-back desks currently in the centre of the room around, so the operators face the walls?
  • Reducing density: Can you separate banks of desks so there are gaps between each set of two or four?
  • Can you spread workspaces around, so people are at least 2 meters apart?
  • Consider moving pedestals so that they are in the centre of the desks between two users, so they are physically unable to come together side by sideIf you have mobile pedestals, consider moving them out so they sit between the desks, increasing the space between the users
  • Consider moving filing cabinets/cupboards between desks to increase the space between the users
  • For face-to-face users, consider introducing additional barriers on top of desk top screens to increase protection from coughs or sneezes. Add screens beside and behind office workers, the higher and wider the better
  • Hot desking: Eliminate or introduce a strict clean in and clean out measures

Meetings and social spaces

It’s likely that before we start welcoming visitors to our workplaces, we can expect to spend much time meeting virtually with our customers and suppliers rather than sitting face-to-face around the meeting table.

With that in mind, we would recommend to thin out the meeting rooms to safely accommodate smaller groups with greater distancing. It’s important to remove alternative chairs and ensure there is always a 2m space in every direction between the chair positions.  There is also the potential to use these rooms to create working space for members of the team thus allowing us to provide greater distancing in office areas.  If meeting tables are modular and can be separated, do so to increase the distancing further. It’s recommended to even meet standing up in the open areas of your office. By using flexible tools, movable furniture solutions and screens you can easily create a safe and productive meeting area.

Floor plan ideas

  • Decrease density by staggering lunches and breaks in cafes or other staff areas
  • Incorporate higher space division to naturally encourage distancing by introducing barriers such as screens, storage, large plants and partitioning
  • Introduce cubicle style office to protect personal desk space with higher screens
  • Adapt an owned desk space approach and reduce shared desking
  • Reduce guest seating in reception areas and introduce individual seating in lounge spaces
  • Easy access to disinfecting stations

Workplaces will not return to normal

A report has suggested that:

The 9-5 is dead but the office is NOT: Workplaces will not ‘return to normal’ after the coronavirus pandemic but most companies will not let employees work from home permanently.

The publication warns workplaces ‘will not return to normal’ after the pandemic is brought under control – with employees having adapted to the ‘new normal’ of working from home during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The study has advised that there has been increased stress levels among employees due to working from home since the lockdown was enforced in May 2020. It suggests workers splitting time between the office and working from home may be the way forward for many companies, even after the pandemic is over.

London-based outsourcing giant Capita have not renewed leases on 25 of their offices, while Lloyds Banking Group was reviewing its office space requirements after deciding most of its 65,000 employees have performed well working from home.

But the report says others, including social media giant Facebook, had turned against working from home models, while American mutlinational IBM had also pulled back from its staff working from home.

However the report concludes that the likely way forward for businesses will be a mixed model, with employees working from home some of the time, and in the office others.

Innovative ideas to make your warehouse more efficient

Most businesses are always looking to be more efficient, but never more so than in the present day. A variety of difficult business conditions mean that warehouse and logistics operations are increasingly looking to save money and space. Oftentimes, the best way to do this is to invest in technological solutions – upgrading the infrastructure that your business relies on every day.

Some of the improvements that can be made to warehouse and logistics infrastructure are more familiar, while others are more on the cutting edge. From smarter shelving to roving robots to simply investing in your staff, here are five innovative ideas to make your warehouse space more efficient.

Smarter storage for your warehouse: While there are plenty of cutting-edge technologies you can apply to your warehouse, an equally effective solution is simply to reappraise your storage. A higher density form of pallet racking could easily increase your available storage space by more than half – or double the amount of floor space you have available for other tasks – giving you ample room to grow.

Employee training : Many warehouse and logistics businesses offer some sort of training to employees to help them carry out their roles, often in the realm of health and safety. However, by going above and beyond to offer additional skills training, you can both improve the quality of people’s work and reinforce the ties that bind them to your business. Offering and incentivising training courses can be a great way to sharpen skills, improve practices within your warehouse or logistics operation, and even to fill roles that you may be struggling with or anticipating a need for.

Automation: Warehouse automation isn’t just the future – for many businesses, it’s the present. While Amazon has been the front-runner in this field, they have kept most of their advances to themselves. Numerous companies have stepped into the breach to develop similar autonomous robots and other automated systems, which shepherd pallets and individual items around the warehouse.

The advantages of automation are numerous. Autonomous vehicles and robots can be more reactive, as they receive an order from a WMS and immediately know where to go to carry it out. They also present safety benefits, as they can support heavy loads and pose no risk of injury to human operators, with sensors to prevent them from colliding with people. Their suitability for menial, repetitive work also reduces the physical and mental load on human operators, who can be moved to other tasks.

Tips on How to Effectively Plan a Warehouse Layout Design

Principles of an Efficient Warehouse Layout

Before you start designing your warehouse, you should understand what you’re trying to achieve with your warehouse layout design.

Here are 3 major principles to keep in mind when planning your warehouse:

Space

Consider how to maximise the space you can afford, taking into consideration storage, stock, offices, working areas, empty pallet storage, battery charging, etc.

With a wide variety of vertical racks and freestanding equipment, you should be able to design your warehouse in the way you need it initially, while being flexible enough to change it in the future if desired.

Flow

Warehouse flow can be summarised as the uninterrupted movement of materials, people, and traffic within your building.

Your first goal should be to cut down on any areas of high traffic or potential for cross-flow crashes.

So, each activity that an employee performs must be located as close as possible to the activity that precedes it and proceeds from it.

That also means materials used to perform those activities should be situated as close as possible to each workstation.

Your second goal should be to eliminate as much movement and disruption as possible.

Accessibility

Every product and all products on pallets should be accessible by everyone, usually without the need to move one product to get to another.

That means structuring your pallet racks in rows that are wide enough to accommodate pallet jacks and trucks, and stacking and stocking items strategically for minimal interference with one another.

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