ATLANTA, Ga. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released recommendations for reopening office buildings that have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If businesses follow the CDC’s guidelines, office workers will return to a drastically different environment than the one they left behind weeks ago.
First, the CDC says employers should consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks, including screening temperatures and symptoms, before employs can enter the work site.
Once in the office space, the CDC suggests workers sit at least 6 feet apart from each other when possible. Employers are encouraged modify seating, furniture and workstations to accommodate this. The CDC also says transparent shields or other physical barriers can be installed to separate employees and visitors where social distancing isn’t an option.
Public health officials say employees should wear a cloth face mask to cover their nose and mouth in all areas of the business. And, handshaking, hugs and fist bumps should be prohibited.
Some of the CDC guidelines border on the impractical, like limiting the “use and occupancy of elevators to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.”
The office kitchen may look different as well. The CDC says high-touch items should be removed.
“Replace high-touch communal items, such as coffee pots, water coolers, and bulk snacks, with alternatives such as pre-packaged, single-serving items,” wrote the CDC.
As for getting to work, the CDC is advising against carpooling or using public transportation. Instead, officials say employers should offer incentives to use forms of commuting that minimize close contact with other, like biking, walking, driving or driving a car alone.
The CDC says employers should also consider the air workers are breathing. Businesses should increase the percentage of outdoor air and consider using natural ventilation.
When it comes to work schedules, the CDC says employers should stagger shifts, start times and break times as feasible to reduce the density of employees in common areas.
To keep things clean, the CDC says high-touch surfaces should be disinfected routinely.
Before resuming business operations, the CDC suggests employers check for hazards of prolonged facility shutdown, such as mold growth, rodents or pests, or issues with stagnant water systems.