With things slowly getting back to normal in many Chinese cities and people across all industries returning to work, what can you do to make sure you’re as protected as possible from the coronavirus in the office?
Here are 7 things to consider when returning to work in China after the coronavirus outbreak.
Self-quarantine and working remotely
After flip-flopping on the issue for several weeks, Beijing has again re-announced that all those returning to the city from abroad (yes, anywhere abroad) should be submitting to 14 days self-quarantine.
Although this likely feels pointless if you’re returning to China from a country with no or next-to-no infections, your employer may well ask you to work from home for the first two weeks after your arrival.
Some workplaces, especially schools, are still operating on a completely remote basis regardless, while others are staggering the days and times employees are in the office to reduce staff contact.
If working from home, at least for some of the time, is an option, take it and consider yourself lucky.
Self-checking and commuting
If you are heading into work, invest in a digital thermometer and check your temperature before leaving the house in the morning.
If your temperature is above 37 degrees Celsius or you feel ill, stay at home and consider reporting to a designated fever center.
If you’re fit to leave the house, wear your mask and try to avoid public transport at peak times.
If possible, scoot or cycle to work (preferably on your own wheels), or take a taxi or Didi, ensuring both you and your driver are masked up.
Arrival at your workplace
On arrival at your workplace, immediately go to the bathroom and wash your hands with soap and water.
Wipe down your work area, including your keyboard and telephone, either with disinfecting wipes or a household cleaning product, before you start work.
You should also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk and use it at regular intervals throughout the day.
Although the usefulness of masks in preventing the spread of infection is widely debated, they do prevent you from touching your nose and mouth, which is a common way to spread infection.
It’s also very unlikely your employer and colleagues would let you into the office without one.
Disposable masks, however, should be changed regularly.
Your employer may supply you with masks for the office.
If not, several cities have a service whereby registered users can pick up a daily quota at pharmacies. Here’s how the system works in Shanghai, for example.
Government guidelines have called on workplaces to reduce the circulation of air by turning off all heating and air conditioning.
This is likely to make your workplace pretty nippy at this time of year, so wrap up warm.
If you’re really suffering, bring a hot water bottle to work and cut the tips off a pair of gloves so your hands stay warm when typing.
It’s also a good idea to close any doors between connecting offices and open the windows a few times a day.
Beijing has suggested that all workers should maintain a radius of at least one meter from each other and have at least 2.5 meters of private workspace.
Try to ensure your office is set up accordingly and avoid sitting directly opposite colleagues.
If your office is only a few floors up, it’s also advisable to take the stairs rather than the elevator.
You’ll avoid a potentially crowded space and also get some exercise!
If you do take the elevator, don’t squeeze yourself into an overly crowded one and be sure to wash or sanitize your hands after pressing any buttons.
By far the safest way to tackle lunchtime in the office is to bring your own food and utensils from home.
If you decide to order delivery, pick up your food outside the building rather than having it delivered to your desk (this is probably a rule imposed by your building anyway).
If you go out for lunch, avoid peak times and try to keep your distance from other diners.
On returning to the office, be sure to wash your hands and wipe down your mobile phone.
Here’s a recent video on how China gets back to normal life after the virus outbreak:
Any other tips for staying safe and healthy when returning to work in China these days?
Drop them in the comments below.