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Returning to the Office? Here are 4 things you should know before you go

The decision to return to the office after working from home is a difficult one, for the safety of yourself, your employees, and your clients. Whether this be a choice you are making now, or, in the foreseeable future, you need to be prepared for it. COVID-19 is still among us, and planning for re-opening may seem stressful, but you can use the following steps to ensure that your office is clean, safe, and organized as you plan for re-opening:

 

   1. Start by Creating a Plan for Social Distancing

Before anyone steps foot into the office, you need to have everything locked in place for how your team is going to be socially distant. In a perfect world, we all have giant offices with individual offices for each employee, but this simply isn’t the case for many small businesses. At the very least, desks need to be 6 feet apart. As we are learning amidst the pandemic though, social distancing indoors is completely different than outdoors where air is not circulated. Keeping employees as far away from one another as possible is key. For shared spaces like reception areas and conference rooms, consider visual reminders like taping markers to remind employees to maintain proper social distancing.

In addition to this, deciding how you will mandate PPE (personal protective equipment) for everyone in the office will also need consideration. Will you be requiring employees and other personnel in the office to wear masks and gloves at all times, or only while in the presence of other employees in shared spaces? Once you have your plans set, the key for success is working with your team to ensure proper instruction and training is available to them so that everyone is prepared and on the same page about what you expect from them.

   2. Stock up on certified cleaning supplies

The beginning of quarantine shocked a lot of people with no stock in toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning supplies. Things are somewhat better now in terms of procuring these necessities, but delays and backorders are still occurring. Making sure your office is heavily stocked with PPE equipment and proper sanitation supplies from a good vendor is important. We recommend using Digital Gadgets Medical to get all of your protective equipment and supplies. You can also reach out to them at covid19ppe@digitalgadgets.com

   3. Invest in Healthcare Technology

In times of despair like this pandemic, innovation does prevail. Healthcare and technology have joined forces to create devices which are helping businesses continue to work while preventing any spread of the virus. Businesses are beginning to use non-contact temperature assessment devices. These are thermometers which use thermal imaging and infrared technology to determine a person’s temperature without having to make contact with them. These thermometers can be used at office entryways as an initial check for employees coming into the building. This temperature check triages any people who have higher temperatures and may have COVID-19 symptoms from coming inside your office and infecting others. Contact us at info@rcsprofessional.com for more information regarding procuring your own Thermal camera.

  4. Keep Track of Hybrid Working

To keep offices less congested, many businesses are favoring hybrid scheduling for their employees - meaning having just some people in the office and some people remote. Keeping track of who is in the office, and on what days, can be hectic. After all, you are used to having everyone in the office regularly pre-pandemic. To keep track of scheduling and keeping everyone in the loop, we recommend Bookings, which is available through your Microsoft 365 subscription with RCS. This software allows you to merge your O365 subscriptions, by integrating company calendars and emails to give an accessible view for everyone to know who will be in the office on which days. 

The road ahead will not be easy, but there are things that you can do to ensure that you are prepared. Focusing on the health and safety of your employees is a priority. Instilling them with confidence and reassurance as they return to the office will be the most important thing you can do for your company along with taking proper precautions, planning, and keeping an open line of communication.

For any questions to assist in bringing your remote work back to a physical office, please contact us at info@rcsprofessional.com

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Teaching Tech in Belize --- What it Taught me

Tech can take you in many different directions, but who knew it would give me the opportunity to take a business trip to Belize? I spend my days working at RCS Professional Services, a tech company located in New York City. I love my job for many reasons; among them, I get work with a terrific tight-knit group of co-workers. At RCS, my day-to-day activities consist of pursuing new client acquisitions, as well as performing various HR and business development functions. The staff makeup is all-male with the exception of one female co-worker, who handles purchasing. Thus, I gravitated towards joining a Women In Tech Facebook group for networking with other women. And this led me to Belize. It started when I commented on Kavya Krishna’s (@kavyakrishna) Facebook post asking for volunteers to run a summer coding camp in Belize run by the organization she co-founded: The Society of Woman Coders. The goal of this organization is “to encourage young girls in developing countries to opt for careers in STEM by conducting free coding camps globally.” My comment on Kavya’s post read, “Do you need to know how to code to apply?” to which she responded, “not necessarily. You need basic coding knowledge” followed by, “why don’t you PM me?” Well, one PM and a couple of interviews later, I was officially inducted into The Society of Woman Coders, and prepping for my first trip to the beautiful country of Belize. Together with my co-facilitator; both of us women working in the tech sector, we set out on a mission to offer a one-week free coding camp to high school girls in the city of Belmopan, Belize. The experience was completely new for me and going into it, I really had no idea of what to expect. I was so gratified to see that these girls far exceeded every goal I set for them and proved to be smarter and more dedicated than any high school students I’d ever seen. I quickly realized that though these girls came from an “underdeveloped country,” their commitment and determination --- and perhaps the absence of outside distractions --- enabled them to focus and advance both their skills and abilities. The program culminated in each of the girls developing their own product or service to sell, as well as a website to represent it; both created over the course of just one week. Each of the girls had something amazing to present, and it was evident from the quality of their work that the talent-game was strong in Belize. The girls were tasked with explaining why they picked their project, and the creativity we saw was astonishing. One girl created a website, which was a self-help guide for people afflicted with asthma. She explained that the reason she picked this particular project was because of her own experience. She suffers from asthma and had an attack once where she was challenged by not being able to get to medical help in time. Thus, she had to figure out how to solve the problem on her own. This site would be to help others in the same situation. Another girl created an online store for people to purchase feminine-hygiene products anonymously since she said that many of her friends felt uncomfortable getting what they needed otherwise. The creativity and resourcefulness of each of these young girls blew my mind, but what I loved most, was seeing women getting ahead in tech in a country that’s third world and also being able to interact with so many other smart women in tech. At the awards ceremony on the last day of the camp, a few of the girls shared their experiences from the week. One girl, Sole, told us how before this program, she always thought of IT as a field that was “so, so boring” but her experience “made her change her mind and realize how fascinating IT actually can be.” She expressed that she found herself looking forward to pursuing a career in tech. After Sole spoke, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that for this one girl ---and hopefully many more --- this had been a successful experience. One parent remarked to us afterward that her daughter said that “this was the best week of her life.” It was empowering to witness young women looking for their own place at the tech table in Belize, and investing time and energy over their summer break to learn how to code. It was gratifying to see the support that the Belizian government lent to this effort, and the energy and passion they invested in the girls. The camp was 100% initiated, funded and run by government officials, and the Belizian Directorate General for Foreign Trade was present for both the opening and closing ceremonies. I watched how he posed for a picture with each girl at the awards ceremony, and the smiles of pride on each of their faces as their names were announced and he presented them with their awards. Even local business owners got involved. I learned that The Inn at Twin Palms where we stayed, offered us lodging there at a very discounted rate, and also, the local news station came down to the school multiple times throughout the week to give media coverage to the program. Now that I am back in New York, the work is far from over. The Society of Woman Coders has been in ongoing contact with the Belizian government to set up follow-up programs for the girls, as well as offer them additional resources, mentors and online support groups. The goal is to continue to foster their newfound knowledge and interest in tech. Word already has caught on, and since hearing about the work we did in Belize, many other developing countries have been reaching out to Kavya to inquire about bringing the program to their girls as well. But, for me, I know that these young girls from Belize will always have a place in my heart and I cannot help but feel grateful to RCS, The Society of Women Coders, and of course, all of Belize, for the opportunity to have been part of it.