What a year it has been! After more than a full year of unprecedented amounts of Americans working from home, we’re starting to venture back into the office. So what does that mean for our workplaces? What can we do to make our workplaces as safe as possible?

I’m going to start by saying that I am not a health expert, and I am not going to pretend to be one either. I am not a doctor or epidemiologist, and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (does that reference make me old?). Also, there isn’t a cookie cutter way to do this. I seek to help, not to give you a script to follow verbatim. And probably a month after I write this everything will have changed anyway!!

Spend your money where it deserves to be spent

Ensuring a safe workplace can cost some money. There are several things we can do to reduce the possible transmission of COVID in our workplaces. One thing we were all going crazy doing when COVID first hit was wiping all door knobs, shared surfaces, etc. While you should still be doing that as part of your normal office cleaning regiment, more data is coming out that the risk of transferring COVID specifically from surfaces is low.1 Keep up with your normal day-to-day cleaning, but you probably don’t need to invest thousands of dollars stockpiling pallets of disinfecting wipes (or toilet paper…let’s not do that again).

Clean the air you breathe

As we know for certain, per the CDC, the “principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus.”1 We also know that the longer you share the same space as an infectious person, the more likely you are to contract the virus. Well, sitting next to someone for 8 hours probably constitutes as a “long time.” What can we do to help keep our air pure?

Air purifiers are the best tool we have presently to…purify the air. Incredible, I know. You may want to work with a company (like us!) to find out exactly what your needs are based on your room layout, square footage, how many people are working in that room, etc. At Richter’s, we recommend the Fellowes AeraMAX Pro Air Purifiers. They are (as of the time of this writing) the only air purifier which has received 3rd party certification to remove coronavirus particles from the air.2, 3 You can get cheaper ones, but why spend money on these things if they aren’t certified to work?

To see them in action and for more details, you can check out this YouTube video, and if you decide you want to buy one (or more!), you can get them from us here. Keep in mind that some have the display, and others don’t, but they both perform the exact same way.


Acrylic screens – the cubicle savior

In December of 2019, you know what was “in” in office furniture? Open layouts, touchdown stations, and gathering areas. Not exactly setting us up for workplace safety success in 2021. I could count on one hand how many acrylic dividers we sold prior to March 2020. Now they are a mainstay in retail spaces, reception areas, and of course, workplaces. There are options for desktop acrylic dividers, but there are also options for you to mount then to the top of cubicles. These are not foolproof, but they do provide a nice frontline layer of protection between employees. Prior to the pandemic, cubicles were being equipped with shorter walls because, let’s face it, 6′ tall cubicle walls can make any of us feel a little claustrophobic. These acrylic shields help maintain an open work environment, but also offer better protection. Of course, you’ll want to consider using these in reception areas and other areas you interact with customers, co-workers, and vendors as well.

As you may have guessed, this is definitely something we can help you with (shocking I know). We have a few available online here if you have a corporate account with us, but we have MANY more options. If you’d like to see what else we’ve got, give us a shout at sales@richteronline.com. We have a large selection of screens to fit your needs. We have them available in clear, frosted, or even with fabric panels, and in a ton of different sizes.


For those commonly used surfaces…

Yes, it is true that surfaces are a low risk to transmit COVID, but you can still contract other illnesses from surfaces. In a time when it can be hard to tell the difference between allergies and COVID, it still makes sense to keep those commonly used surfaces clean. Plus, this information is useful aside from COVID, and it’s a good time to brush up on your knowledge of disinfectants (you know, because people do that). I would just prioritize the above when it comes to your dollars.

When choosing a cleaning product, make sure you consider its “dwell time.” It may also be referred to as “contact time,” or in our industry we sometimes informally refer to it as “kill time.” The dwell time is how long the surface needs to remain wet for the product to disinfect the surface from the virus/bacteria it is referencing. That means you might be using more than one wipe, or re-applying a spray, to ensure that the surface remains wet for as long as directed. It’s also important to note that the dwell time can be different for COVID-19 than it is for say, E. coli. Make sure you are checking the label for instructions on using the product properly. Some products have really long dwell times (5-10 minutes even), and others can be super short, even as short as 30 seconds. You might spend a little bit more for one of the latter products, but you’ll use less and get better effectiveness.

For COVID specifically, make sure you’re checking out the EPA List N, which has a search tool to allow you to search a given disinfectant, and it will appear on the list if it is effective against COVID-19. It will also show you the dwell time for the product as well. This has been a really helpful tool for us as we have referred specific products to customers over the past year.

Let’s be nice

This has been a tough year for all of us. We miss our families. We miss our “normal” lives. Some people have kept up with life as usual. Others have been super careful. Odds are, you are going to have some of both in your office. Try to keep your conversations positive. The best thing we can do is be gracious with each other. Show kindness. Be respectful. You don’t always know what’s going on in the life of your co-workers. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, especially in the world we live in today, might be just what the doctor ordered.

God bless you all. Stay safe out there.