Making Our Return to the Workplace

Making Our Return to the Workplace

Making your return to the office can be a nerve-wracking task at the moment. We're here to give you a preview as to what that might look like.

The impact of the pandemic has left us all quite uncertain in many aspects of our lives: the social one, the academic one, the personal one, and the professional one. How will we go about our social interactions going forward? Should I be staying six feet apart? What should I do if someone removes their mask at an inappropriate time? The answers to these questions all lie within yours or your environment’s rules and/or best judgment, but they’re all concerns many of us have.

For many of us, our work lives tie heavily into our social ones. So when we were all told to stay home in March of 2020, the adjustment was quite difficult to stay in line with. Along with that adjustment came much uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and even panic. It’s not a place we want to revisit, that’s for sure. 

As Covid-19 cases begin to surge again during these winter months, some of those elements may be coming into play for us once again. 

Many of us are wondering when it will end, when will it return to normal? For many workplaces, however, the version of normal we once knew is disintegrating, and a new normal is working its way into our schedules. 

The good news is that we can adjust to the best of our abilities to keep workplaces a safe place!

 

Let’s take a look at how workplaces across the country are adapting to the new normal:

Vaccination Statuses

Many employers require vaccination statuses, such as Cisco, Facebook, and Microsoft (NBC News). In addition to those who provide a vaccination status indicating they have gotten the jab, employers must also take into consideration those who have not. These individuals may include those who are pregnant, have a disability, or hold specific religious beliefs. Under the EEO laws, these individuals may not be required to be vaccinated by their employer. In this case, many employers look to require proof of a negative test weekly or daily

It is, however, worth mentioning that numerous studies have shown that vaccines do tremendously reduce one’s risk of contracting a case that results in moderate to severe symptoms (CDC). 

Hybrid Workweeks

Employees who once solely used the office as their primary workspace may find that their employers are enforcing hybrid workweeks. As the name implies, hybrid refers to some days being worked from home, and the others taking place in the office. This is in effect to potentially slow the spread of Covid-19 and its variants, alongside reducing exposure overall.

Since having every employee return to the workplace can be considered quite dangerous, the workplaces may now function with reduced capacities. This ties into how the hybrid workweek operates. For example, with X employees total, Y employees go to the office on Monday, Z employees work from home. Groups Y and Z then switch on Tuesday, and the shift continues throughout the workweek. 

Managing Equipment Usage and Traffic Flow:

Returning to work also doesn’t just require employers to consider mask usage, vaccinations, and hybrid workweeks, but to also keep tabs on the equipment and the flow of traffic. Keeping tabs on the equipment being used is particularly in efforts to identify things that may have been touched, and need to be sanitized. 

Making physical contact with high traffic items and not sanitizing them can potentially lead to infection, and not just of Covid-19, but a cold or flu. Our hands may contain 3,200 germs at one time, which belong to over 150 species (Pfizer). To combat this, proper handwashing technique is highly encouraged, and you may find that your workplace contains multiple hand-sanitizing stations scattered throughout.

Directing the flow of traffic is also a crucial part of employers protecting their employees against the risks of returning to the workplace. This is particularly in efforts to maintain social distancing. You might find that upon returning to your campus or workplace that there are many signs directing you in which path you should follow in order to reduce contact with those you might pass. 

Plexiglass screens are also a very common find when touring an office. Creating a division between individuals, they may also assist in reducing exposure rates.

There's a lot to consider.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, the way you navigate your workplace has endured quite the shift compared to pre-pandemic. Our lives, for that matter, have endured quite the shift. It’s up to your employer to communicate with you the methods in which they will provide the safest and most comfortable workplace possible. 

It’s also best to keep the communication flowing both ways! If you have any concerns regarding your work environment, open up to your boss or colleagues; you may find that you share similar concerns!