Return to Work Considerations

March 2, 2023


By Lisa Calick

While businesses have in many ways suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies now face significant challenges when it comes to reopening their offices.  States have begun to ease restrictions, including laying out timelines for when many businesses may open.  As a result it is important that any plan to reopen complies with state and local orders, which has included a phased-in approach with health and safety protocols that didn’t exist before.

In addition to checking with your state, companies should refer to the CDC’s website, as well as OSHA’s website, which includes useful information to help guide you through this unprecedented time.

As you begin to map out a plan to reopen, there are many things you’ll need to consider.

How will you determine what workers to bring back into the office?  Start only with those needed to operate your business.  If you have employees who can telework, you should allow them to continue to do so for the time being.  Make a determination based on state requirements, your business needs, as well as consideration for your employees’ individual needs.

While much of your workforce may be eager to return to some degree of normalcy, be prepared for some employees to express concern about returning.  This is where communication is critical.  As you develop a return-to-work plan, talk regularly with your employees.  Explain to them what steps you are taking in order to keep them safe.

As part of your strategy, you will need to ensure that you adhere to social distancing practices.  Some ways to accomplish this may include staggered work shifts, modified work schedules, virtual meetings, continued teleworking arrangements, limited use of shared spaces and common areas, as well as other measures you may choose to implement.  You may also wish to consider potential modifications to your workspace.  This may be less of an issue with those in individual offices, however you’ll need to address space concerns with employees who sit in desks or other open areas.

It will be important to create rules and practices designed to safeguard your workers. This includes requiring face coverings and reinforcing basic preventive measures such as handwashing, and continued use of disinfectants and sanitizers.  Your continued efforts to maintain a clean and safe workplace will be a critical component to reopening your business.  Be sure to follow the guidance on the CDC website in this regard.

Another step many businesses are taking, and in some cases may be required in order to re-open, is the implementation of health screening protocols.  You will want to make sure you are taking prudent steps to mitigate the presence and spread of COVID-19.  Screenings may include employee questionnaires and

temperature checks.  You will need to make sure that you are applying these protocols consistently and keeping the results confidential.  Most importantly you will want to ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps in the event someone presents with symptoms or becomes ill.

The new workplace will look very different than it did in the past.  Enhanced cleaning measures, social distancing requirements and new protocols will be our new normal.  Companies that effectively plan, communicate and continue safe practices will see more success and employee engagement.


Reach out to a Wiss team member for more information or assistance.

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