How to Stay Safe in a Brave New World

On March 16, 2020, Woolpert stepped into the future, due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control, and implemented a policy that all employees should work remotely, with just a few critical exceptions. Since then, Woolpert employees have joined so many across the world in transitioning from an office environment to learning to work from home—usually with children and spouses and domesticated animals all in the same room.

Amid this, one big question has arisen: How can we be safe, happy and healthy while going about these new versions of our daily lives? To help us all answer that, here are three easy steps to solving this riddle:

Step One: Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene
If we have learned anything from the current global pandemic, it is the vital importance of hygiene. This is a lesson we all should have learned long ago but which, at best, was followed during flu season. Hygiene doesn’t just involve brushing your teeth twice a day and showering regularly. Hygiene is defined as “the establishment and maintenance of health,” and therefore has a much broader application. This includes thoroughly washing your hands after contact with public or heavily used surfaces and keeping unwashed hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

These guidelines are the cornerstone of not only avoiding the newest and scariest virus on the market, COVID-19, but also avoiding a variety of maladies including the common cold and seasonal flu. So now that you have begun nesting around your kitchen table with your laptop and notepad, be aware that hygiene should be the starting and ending point of each day. Wash your hands and wipe down your frequently used areas (kitchen table/laptop/chair) and begin a productive day with a sense of cleanliness and hygiene.

Step Two: Mental Health Should Not Be Forgotten
As the transition from a teeming (and teaming) office environment with co-workers around every corner to a place where your work and home life have merged, we need to be mindful of our mental health. The blurring of the line between an employee’s work and home, all within a much more isolated environment, can take a toll on that employee’s mental health. Add to that the dark cloud currently hanging over the country and world, and it is a recipe for a sour mood.

To combat this state of mind, it is key to have a clear delineation between work and personal spaces. Establish a designated area to work from, such as a kitchen table or spare room. Reach out to co-workers through Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Zoom or another technology platform that allows virtual face-to-face contact with others. Go outside when possible. Take walks or engage in other physical activities to improve mental health. Take a real lunch break and try to eat healthy. Treat working from home as a new experience and really engage with this new way of working.

Step Three: Stay Positive
Above all else, try to keep a positive outlook. No matter the situation, looking for the ever-present silver lining can help lift anyone’s spirits. Please stay safe and be happy, all!

Jeb Bolton

Jeb Bolton is an attorney and risk and safety manager for Woolpert. The Alabama native enjoys tackling safety topics almost as much as the Crimson Tide enjoys taking down Tigers.


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