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What Will Your Workplace Look Like When You Go Back?

April 27th, 2020 Emma O'Connor

WorkplaceAs states begin to ease social distancing guidelines, you may be wondering what your workplace will look like in the coming months.  Many reporters, scholars, and politicians agree that it may take years before we return to life as it was pre-COVID-19.  Instead, states will adopt a semblance of normal, allowing businesses to open with some social distancing protocol.  After all, Americans won’t want to return to work or shop at local businesses if they feel it’s unsafe to do so.  So how can employees safely go back to the office and what can they expect for the summer?

How Will We Return to Work? 

While Trump has issued guidance to Governors about how to reengage their state economies, Governors will ultimately develop reopening strategies based on their states’ unique situations.  Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and other states have rolled out plans to gradually ease social distancing protocols.  Scholars and health officials have offered guidance on best practices for reopening, some of which have been adopted by Governors.  For example, the Harvard Business Review suggested that states should not ease restrictions until they are over the peak of infections, hospitals have the resources to handle a second wave, there is ample COVID-19 testing availability, and there is enough protective equipment for all returning workers.  

Scholars have suggested that workers should gradually return to their offices in waves.  Only employees who are under the age of 65, have recovered from coronavirus and have immunity to the virus, and do not have underlying medical conditions should initially go back to work.  The first wave could be individuals who have demonstrably recovered from the illness and developed an immunity.  The second wave could be individuals under 65 without underlying medical conditions who test negative for the virus.  Thus, as Dr. Fauci has also explained, coronavirus testing and antibody testing are essential for reopening the country.  

Will Your Workplace Be Safe? 

Employers will likely adopt the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers as states gradually reopen.  The CDC has issued recommendations for companies to adhere to social distancing guidelines in the workplace.  For example, they advise employers to implement staggered work shifts to reduce the number of employees in the office at one time. The CDC has also suggested that companies should increase physical space between employees and customers.  They’ve asked employers to reschedule non-essential meetings, downsize operations, and implement telework whenever possible.  Companies may also provide masks, hand sanitizers, discourage handshaking, and check their employees’ temperatures before going into work.  It will be difficult for local governments to enforce any of these policies, so it’s up to employees to hold their companies accountable for protecting their safety in the office.  As much as Americans want to rebuild the economy, open their small businesses, and start working again, they are rightly concerned to return to unsafe environments that could cost them their lives.

Seek Legal Assistance 

If you have contracted coronavirus at work, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.