Businesses across the U.S. are increasingly ready to reopen their doors and discontinue the COVID-19 lockdown that started for most just over one year ago. Before reopening your office, however, it is important to know what the CDC guidelines for workplaces regarding COVID-19 are.
Employers aren’t just responsible for keeping the health of their team members a top priority—they also play a crucial role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 across the country. If you are a business owner wondering what are some precautions to take against COVID-19 when returning to the office, here are six steps to consider.
1. Pay Attention to Conditions in Your City
Each community is unique, and COVID-19 conditions vary between them. The situation in your area will determine whether it is safe to reopen for business. As a business owner, you should consider the risk level in your community before making the decision to reopen your offices. Make sure to stay up to date on the latest information from state and local health departments.
2. Plan for a Phased Transition
Instead of welcoming all your employees back into the office at once, determine whether any team members can continue to work remotely. Stagger the times or alternate the days that employees are in the office to allow for social distancing. Communicate with employees to gauge their comfort with returning to the office, and set up alternative working conditions for those at higher risk.
3. Prepare the Physical Space for Reentry
Another consideration for reopening offices during COVID-19 is prepping the physical workspace itself. Hire a professional cleaning company to disinfect the office before allowing employees back in. It is also important to order furniture and supplies that will make working conditions in your office safer for everyone.
In addition to having hand sanitizer, disinfectant cleaner and disposable masks on hand, businesses can invest in new furniture to protect their employees’ health. Antimicrobial chairs and tables will help keep the office germ-free—their surfaces resist bacteria, and they are exceptionally easy to clean. Barriers like acrylic sneeze guards can also be placed in high-interaction locations, such as the front desk and the conference room, to keep viral airborne particles from spreading around the office.
4. Establish a Health Screening Routine
Set up a daily health screening process for every member of the staff that returns to the office before they enter the facility. Conducting temperature checks will help you identify employees that may have been exposed to COVID-19. Unfortunately, though, temperature screenings cannot detect those who have been infected and are asymptomatic or presymptomatic.
Utilize the CDC COVID-19 screening questionnaire to determine whether an employee has been in close contact with anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19. For the safety of everyone in the office, send home any individuals that have a fever or answer “yes” to any of the screening questions.
5. Encourage CDC-Recommended Hygiene Protocols
Incorporate these COVID-safe CDC measures into your COVID-19 office reopening plan:
- Encourage employees to get vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available to them.
- Require employees to wear a mask while in the workplace.
- Have employees wash their hands often with soap and water—especially after coughing, sneezing, or handling shared equipment.
- Enforce social distancing measures (staying at least six feet apart) in shared spaces throughout the office.
6. Be Prepared for Another Office Shutdown
Even with a detailed COVID-19 readiness plan for your office reopening, another shutdown may occur. The threat of COVID-19 is constantly changing. It is important to continuously monitor the situation in your community to make the best decision for your employees and your business. Visit the CDC’s COVID-19 workplace guidance page for businesses and employers for more information on how to safely reopen your offices.