Safety When Returning To The Office for In-Person Work

Group of Young Gen Z Coworkers at a Table on Laptops Working

90% of businesses are pushing for employees to go back to the office by the end of 2024 in order to increase productivity, collaboration, and engagement, according to a CNBC report.

While many workers are fighting to keep their work-from-home positions intact, or a hybrid model at the very least, company leaders are threatening to fire employees who don't comply or have it affect their performance reviews and bonuses.

It's safe to say that over the next year, we will see a large number of employees return to some form of in-office working.

The new mayor of Philadelphia, Cherelle Parker, wants to bring all 25,000 city workers back to the office to inject life and commerce into the downtown city center according to ABC News.

How Will Employees Returning To The Office Impact Their Safety?

White Woman Sitting On Couch Working on Laptop in Safe Environment

Working from home from the comfort and safety of your couch doesn't pose many risks for employees, and returning to the office will undoubtedly have major impacts on the safety and well-being of employees such as:

  • Personal safety - the personal physical safety of workers will be negatively impacted
  • Driving safety - with more workers returning to the office, there will be more cars on the road
  • Public transit safety - ridership on subways, buses and trains will increase and can pose a greater safety risk
  • Office inter-personal safety - as more employees start working closely in person together, there is an increased risk of office harassment and bullying
  • Food safety - more people will be drinking and eating foods served in their offices or in the surrounding restaurants, and there is an increased risk for food safety
  • Personal health - employees will be exposed to more germs and bacteria during their commutes and in-person working

While there are many advantages of in-person working such as collaboration, socializing, and not being stuck behind a screen all day, there are a plethora of risks that pop up as well. We're gonna take a look at each of the risks and how we can mitigate them.

Personal Safety

Personal safety is the most glaring issue that amplifies with in-person working. Leaving our homes, commuting to work, and engaging with the world outside opens up our personal safety to greater risks.

But the world is meant to be experienced, and it's impossible to do that only from our homes. Instead of living in fear, we should safely embrace the world by having safety precautions in place.

Situational awareness, which is observing your environment, identifying risks, and acting accordingly is one of the best ways to safely interact with the world and the people around us.

Purchasing and carrying a convenient self defense product like a pepper spray, kubaton, or knife is a must have for all women and men these days when they leave the house. Here are some of our top selling pepper spray, kubaton and knives:

Full Protection 8-Piece Pepper Spray Kit

Black Pepper Spray Set

Pastel Pointed Kubatons

Pastel Colored Pointed Kubaton Stick for Defense

Key Knives with Hidden Blades

Colored Key Knives with Hidden Blades


Driving Safety

As offices open their doors for in-person working, more and more people will hit the roads as part of their daily commute.

According to the World Health Organization, 1.19 million people worldwide die each year as the result of road traffic crashes, which is more than 2 people every minute.

In the United States, that number is 42,939 people each year according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This means that in the United States alone, more than 117 people die everyday as a result of car crashes.

That is an exorbitantly high number both worldwide and in the United States, and people don't realize the major risk they take by getting behind the wheel.

There are many simple precautions you can take to ensure your safety is optimized while driving. Always wear your seatbelt and make sure that all of your passengers do the same - especially children and young adults, and babies should be properly strapped into a car seat.

Woman in Dress Putting on Seatbelt for Safety

Never text or eat while driving and keep distractions to a minimum. Maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead so that you can stop or slow down with enough notice.

Use your turn signals to indicate lane changes and turns - it's better to do this too early than too late, and check for pedestrians and cyclists when making turns.

Regularly check your mirrors and blind spots, and be prepared to react to unexpected situations.

Finally, never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs - and most importantly leave your ego at home and never engage in road rage situations.

Throw one of our car safety accessories into your glove compartment so you will be prepared if you need to cut your seatbelt or break the window in an emergency. Hopefully you will never need it, but god forbid you do need it and don't have one.

Seatbelt Cutter / Window Breaker

2 Seatbelt Cutter Window Breaker Car Safety Devices

Public Transit Safety

While some employees returning to in-office work will be driving in, others who live in large metropolitan areas will be commuting to work on public transit. 

In New York City, there has been a rise in transit crime and attacks recently due to the increased ridership and the governor has called in the National Guard to help improve safety.

Asian Girl in White Shirt Riding Subway Being Cautious of Dangers

There are several precautions that should be taken if you are starting to commute more to work. Basic self defense devices like a personal alarm can go a long way in both deterring a criminal and attracting attention and help from bystanders.

On subway platforms make sure to stand behind designated lines and be mindful of the gap when entering and exiting trains.

Use napkins to hold railings and bars, or use hand sanitizer afterwards and avoid touching your face to minimize the risk of contracting germs.

Try to stand in subway cars that have more people so you are not isolated or in cars with the conductor. On a bus, try to sit or stand closer to the driver so he or she can help you if needed.

It's also always best to deescalate any minor argument or misunderstanding like bumping into someone so that everyone can go home happy and safe.

Office Inter-Personal Safety

As employees transition back to in-office work, there will naturally be an increase in interpersonal risks such as harassment and bullying.

Harassment includes verbal, physical, or psychological attacks that create a hostile or intimidating work environment. This includes unwelcome comments, gestures, or jokes related to a person's race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

Bullying is the repeated mistreatment or abusive behavior that undermines someone's dignity or well-being, such as verbal abuse, exclusion, or sabotage of work tasks.

To navigate these social and inter-personal challenges of working in a dynamic environment, it's important that you understand your company's policies on workplace behavior and know how to assert your own personal boundaries.

Two Tech Bros Working While Socializing

Don't be shy or intimidated to report inappropriate behavior to your supervisor or HR so that it's handled quickly. If your company offers training programs or educational resources for employee conduct, make sure to attend them and offer support where needed.

Take a close look at who the owners, managers and people in charge are. Do they treat everyone with respect and inclusion, or do they encourage or turn a blind eye to inappropriate behavior? Make sure the people leading your company are the right people to be leading you.

If you find yourself in precarious situations where you feel bullied, harassed or mistreated, you can also look to purchase a voice recorder to collect evidence if it's ever needed. Generally speaking if it's in public, you can voice record anywhere in the United States, since there is no expectation of privacy in a public setting. In a private setting, it becomes trickier and some states require the consent of all parties. Check out this link on voice recording laws in all 50 states:

Inter-personal safety has become an important topic recently as bullying and harassment are now seen for the serious damage they can do. If you ever feel bullied or harassed, make sure to take the proper steps in addressing the issue and creating a positive, fair and respectful work environment.

Food Safety

Another less-talked about risk with in-office working is food safety.

Many businesses provide food for their employees either on a regular or special basis, and it's important to be mindful of how the food is prepared, stored, and served to minimize the risk of getting foodborne illnesses.

Large Trays of Food Left Out in Office For Employees

Some businesses will leave food out the entire day and this can lead to contamination and spoilage if you aren't aware of how long the food has been out for. You should also be vigilant about the cleanliness and hygiene of food preparation areas and utensils used.

Similarly, you will be going out to local restaurants and coffee shops more often now that you are working in the office. Some of these establishments may be coming out of very slow periods of business due to everyone working from home so you should assess the hygiene standards and practices.

Since you've been eating at home a lot, you can also bring homemade food, which gives you greater control over the ingredients, freshness, and preparation practices, and reduces the risk of contracting an illness or allergy.

No matter where you eat, whether it's from your kitchen or the local deli, you should always be aware of how food is prepared and handled to avoid food safety risks.

Personal Health Safety

As more of us return to in-office work, there's an increased proximity and interaction among coworkers and a greater exposure to germs and bacteria.

Hand washing after using the bathroom, handling food, or touching many surfaces will always be one of the best practices to prevent virus and bacteria transmission. Following the pandemic, many businesses now have stand-alone hand sanitizer stations that contain alcohol to kill bacteria and germs. Wearing a mask or even staying home when sick will help prevent the spread of germs as well.

Regarding foods, maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can bolster the immune system, with supplements like vitamin C providing an extra boost. Regularly drinking water for hydration, consistent exercise, and sufficient sleep also contribute to overall health and immunity.

If everyone followed these precautions, we could all help create a safer and healthier environment as we return to in-office work.

Final Thoughts

Staying safe while returning to the office is not just about your personal physical safety - it encompasses a wide range of areas that one should be mindful of such as driving, public transit, inter-personal, food, and personal health.

While working from home was undoubtedly more comfortable and safe than venturing out into the world every day, were you born to just sit at home on the computer all day?

There is a lot to explore and experience in this world and while there are many associated risks with putting yourself out there, that's part of the joy of life. Leaving your comfort zone is part of a person's growth - and doing it safely is the smartest way to make the most of life.

Asian Man and Blonde Woman Coworkers Working Professional

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