Amidst the ongoing and uncertain pandemic, offices around the country are in the process of slowly reopening with the goal of re-energizing both the business and its employees.
However, it is vitally important to address that you will not be returning to the same workplace, but instead walk through the doors of a changed office — one with new policies and procedures to ensure maximum safety and employee wellbeing.
Here are a few key changes employees should expect to see as they return to the workplace, all of which are designed to ensure compliance and mitigate serious health risks when transitioning back into an office environment during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Increased Safety Measures
The most immediate, noticeable change will be the new safety measures implemented to protect the health of employees.
In the context of COVID-19, OSHA is advising employers to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means you may see updated social distancing efforts such as the restructuring of workstations to be six feet apart, staggering work times to maximize space, virtual meetings rather than conference room gatherings, or possibly the installation of plexiglass in between workstations.
You may be asked for routine temperature checks, required to wear a mask, or comply with anti-body and/or COVID-19 testing (where legal).
High Traffic Areas Reimagined
Employees can expect to see high traffic areas receive greater focus on cleanliness and sanitation, such as entrances and exits, stairways and handrails, doors and doorknobs, restrooms, conference rooms, food and breakroom services, printers and copy machines and other high-traffic, high-touch office features.
You may find the addition of hand washing and sanitizing stations, and see that some areas may no longer be available, such as smaller, confined spaces.
Additionally, there are precautions you may not notice, such as improvements with HVAC systems to ensure units are functioning properly, the cleaning of filters, and the insurance that ducting and vents are visibly clean and free of dust.
Understandably, going back to the office environment comes with a new set of stresses and uncertainties.
The most important step a company can take is to help alleviate those concerns by sharing all safety precautions implemented prior to reopening its doors.
You should always feel comfortable asking for a list of safety measures before returning and are also encouraged to check with your local jurisdiction(s) for the latest return to work protocols, stay-at-home orders, face mask policies, and temperature and health screenings.
We are all in this together, with health and safety as the number one priority as we thoughtfully and carefully reopen the workplace.
For more information on returning to work amid COVID-19, check out our latest eBook: Back to Work: How to Ensure a Smooth Post-COVID Transition