We’re just coming through the longest, deadliest global pandemic those of us living have ever seen and hopefully will ever see. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on not just our personal lives, but our professional lives as well, and the recovery continues today.
Many jobs went remote to keep employees safe, but now businesses are trying to slowly bring the staff back. Given this new normal we’re forced to accept, owners and managers are unsure how to safely accomplish a complete return to the office.
Some ways to increase the safety of both staff and guests include social distancing, getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and improving ventilation systems. Unfortunately, some of these options may not be ideal because many businesses still have tight spaces, whether it’s workstations crammed together, a small breakroom, or cramped conference rooms. If this describes your building, it might be time to consider a workplace electrical rewire, plus other changes that will keep everyone healthy and safe now and in the future.
What Does Workplace Rewiring Entail?
A general rule is if your property is more than 25 years old, it’s important to investigate what shape the wiring is in so you can gauge how much work is required to update it and what it will likely cost. An electrical inspection is a good first step. Some signs you need to consider an electrical checkup, include flickering/dimming lights, a burning odor, breakers that often trip. sparking, buzzing sounds, or charred electrical outlets.
Another telltale sign that a rewiring is in order is whether the wiring has modern, nonconductive plastic coating. If you notice rubber, fabric, or lead-insulated cabling, it should be replaced because it can break down and short circuit, leading to a fire or electrocution. Please note it’s not advisable to touch any wires until you’ve turned off the main breaker first. When in doubt, always contact a professional electrician.
Generally speaking, workplace rewiring involves replacing the in-wall/in-ceiling wiring, outlets, and circuit breaker panel. And because it can be a bit messy and potentially disruptive to your operations, you need to plan it carefully and budget for any repairs needed, such as damage to walls and ceilings. The benefits include reduced power costs, better usability and resale value, improved safety, and protection for expensive devices or appliances.
6 Ways Workplace Rewiring Can Make Your Office Safer From COVID-19
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers provide a “safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” Although the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) first declared that fully vaccinated people don’t need to follow the same precautions as the unvaccinated, evidence from the recent Delta variant led the CDC to recommend that even the vaccinated wear a mask in public and stay at least six feet apart. While that’s good advice, it may not be practical in all situations and offices.
Before COVID, most offices weren’t designed to support organizational priorities. Now they may need to be completely reconsidered and physically transformed for a post-pandemic world. This might involve creating workspaces that support new ways of interacting. Future offices will use technologies that enable employees to return to the office and perform their jobs in the safest way possible. This may involve determining which workers are purely on-premises and which can perform their jobs remotely or in a hybrid manner, along with how frequently the office is cleaned, whether there’s sufficient airflow, and if there’s enough distance between individuals. Let’s take a look at six ways workplace rewiring can help make your office safer.
Spread Out Workstations
According to OSHA, physical distancing in communal work areas is critical for employee safety to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although six feet of distance from other workers, customers, and clients is recommended, it’s not a guarantee of safety. Enclosed areas and spaces that are poorly ventilated could still be dangerous, especially if people are in close contact for an extended period of time, such as in workstations. Some additional OSHA suggestions include installing transparent shields between people, utilizing flexible worksites or work hours, rotating shifts so not as many workers are in the space at the same time, remote service delivery, and flexible meeting options.
However, even these may not be 100% effective or could present barriers to your business operations. If that’s the case, another option to consider is whether to rewire electrical outlets, which would provide the additional space needed to ensure worker safety by creating the proper distance between workstations.
Rearrange Communal Break Areas
Break rooms are notoriously small, especially in older, single-floor office buildings. Unfortunately, the kitchen area is a popular place for morning and afternoon breaks and at lunchtime, with many people sitting in close proximity to one another for extended periods of time.
If you have a small breakroom, consider rewiring it to promote social distancing. Moving popular appliances like the refrigerator, toaster, coffee machine, and microwave to different areas and separating tables to limit the number of people seated there at any given time are just a few ways that rewiring could help create a safer workplace.
Increase Space in Conference Rooms
Along these same lines, while conference rooms in high-rise office complexes tend to be spacious, yours may not be. Having 10 people sitting shoulder to shoulder trying to share a few outlets at a conference table isn’t a good way to protect workers. For better safety, consider electrical rewiring that creates more space between meeting attendees, so their important devices aren’t all pushed together.
Install TVs For Video Conferences
Another good reason for electrical rewiring is to accommodate newly installed televisions for video conferencing. Previously, there wasn’t a huge need for video conferences, unless you had a multi-national organization spread across many time zones. That’s all changed due to the pandemic, so if you have remote or hybrid employees, whether only temporarily or on a permanent basis, you may need to install more televisions in the workplace.
Install More Outlets
Recent studies indicate the average American has 10 connected devices in the home, and an office or retail setting will have many more than that. Electrical outlets are more important than ever to charge phones and watches, power laptops, phones, and televisions, run air purifiers and ventilation facilitators, and other uses. You really can’t have too many outlets, so consider electrical rewiring to address your power needs both today and in the future.
Upgrade The Electrical Box For More Amperage
You probably can’t get away with adding more outlets without checking on the viability of your electrical circuit breaker box. If that’s outdated, you won’t be able to supply the power needed for all those connected devices. This is a critical element to any electrical rewiring you undertake, so factor this in when estimating the time and cost needed to complete the project.
Considering an Electrical Rewire at The Office? These Are The Steps to Take
If you’re thinking about rewiring your office or business, take a few minutes to carefully consider the steps involved. It isn’t as simple as just saying “let’s do it”. Below are a few ideas you should consider, though it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. You may think of some others as well.
- Determine the reason for rewiring – start by speaking with managers and staff about specific electrical problems they may have encountered.
- Request an inspection from a qualified commercial electrician.
- Make a detailed plan for the time and money required to complete the project.
- Decide whether your rewiring will require a circuit breaker panel upgrade – the box’s total amperage can usually be found printed on or near the main circuit breaker. Most panels are 100, 150, or 200 amps.
- Carefully examine the layout of all affected rooms. It may be helpful to draw a diagram of each room, including furniture placement and outlets, and modify this as needed before the commercial electricians start work. Remember that last-minute requests can prove time-consuming and costly, so know exactly what you want and convey this to the electricians.
Let Bell Electrical Improve Your Workplace’s Safety With Electrical Upgrades & Rewiring
Bell Solar and Electrical Systems is the premier commercial electrician in Las Vegas. When you need electrical services in the Las Vegas area, we’re your go-to first call. Our professional, courteous journeyman electricians carry the same values as our company – we’re not profit-focused and we believe that taking care of our employees gives them the incentive to take care of our business. But don’t take our word for it. Let us show you what we do best. Give us a call or complete a web request for more information and a free quote.