What to Expect When Returning to Work at a Commercial Office Space
Jul 21, 2020
As the country works to reopen businesses and resume some sense of normalcy, workers around the world are wondering what to expect. By April, around 62% of The United States’ workforce had switched to remote working.
While many companies have decided to continue to work online until the virus calms down more, others are opting to resume operations. If you’ve been called to return to work in your commercial office space – don’t fret. Instead, expect things to be a little different when you return.
Safety Protocols Will Be Strict
While state governments have varying opinions about the best course of action – many businesses have similar feelings. No one wants their building to be hit with an outbreak. Safety protocols will need to be thorough and strictly enforced to prevent the spread of the virus.
In short, it will be incredibly crucial that companies practice social distancing recommendations and sanitation procedures.
Once you return to work, expect to sit and congregate at least six feet away from other employees. Social distancing is still the best means for stopping the spread of the virus.
Offices who didn’t have separate areas for workers pre-COVID will likely have them now. Most bosses will make sure their employees have their own space to work without fear of being too close to other employees. They’ll likely use interior partition walls or traditional cubicles to do this.
Additionally, the CDC released specific guidelines that allow employers to check temperatures and assess employees for COVID symptoms before entering the building. While it’s illegal for employers to ask about an employee’s health, during the COVID-era, expect to have daily temperature and symptom checks.
Sanitation Practices Will Be Tedious
In addition to separate work areas and symptom checking, expect your sanitation requirements to be much higher than they were pre-COVID. Your employer will likely follow the CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting the workspace and expect you to follow suit.
These guidelines include wearing disposable gloves and cleaning high touch surfaces regularly. Expect to clean your white solid surface countertops, desk, elevator buttons, phones, and high-touch areas several times per day.
Your employer might eliminate break rooms or cafeteria areas where the chance for exposure is higher. They might also require you to wear masks. Some states have explicit rules about mask usage, while others are more lenient. Your employee can legally make you wear a mask, so expect this.
Some employers might also focus on increasing ventilation. The CDC recommends increasing air circulation to combat the virus. Some employers might keep the windows open, add fans, adjust the air conditioner, add architectural metal grilles to the outside of the building, and more.
While not washing your hands was frowned upon before the virus, now hand washing might be explicitly required. Just remember, these procedures are all an effort to keep the work environment as safe as possible.
What You Can Do to Prepare
The first thing is to try not to get too stressed out. If your employer is taking all the above precautions, you should be okay to return to work.
There are many things you can do to prepare, too.
- Enforce social distancing – Don’t let people get within six feet of you.
- Keep your personal workspace clean – Be proactive about keeping your area sanitized.
- Wash your hands – Be sure to use soap and warm water and wash for at least twenty seconds.
- Wear a mask – The leading scientists agree that mask-wearing is vital to keeping yourself safe.
- Bring your own beverages and food – Even if your office keeps their cafeteria and break room operable, your best bet is to pack your own food and beverages.
- Assess your own symptoms – If you think you might have COVID-19, stay home, and get tested. Don’t risk bringing it to your office.
- Prepare for potential changes – Pack a jacket in case your office cranks up the AC, carry hand sanitizer in case the office runs out of soap, and consider bringing your own Lysol to work, too.
If the history of pandemics tells us anything, at some point, things will get back to normal. For now, expect things to be a little different when you return to work but know that these changes are all temporary and necessary. Before you know it, you’ll be back to shared workstations, shaking hands, and congregating around the water cooler.
Written by: Matt Lee
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.