Returning to the Office

Regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or intend to be vaccinated, the end of work-from-home measures instituted during the COVI-D-19 pandemic are on the verge of expiration.  For those returning to the office, work will still require some adjustments to keep ourselves and each other safe.


Whether beginning a new job at an unfamiliar work location or returning to the office after having worked remotely this past year, employees can not just go back to business as it was pre-COVID.  The Center for Disease Control is regularly updating its recommendations on what measures to take to be as safe when returning to the office based on the very latest scientific evidence. 


Obviously, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.  For those that work in an office with only a few people, depending on how far apart those employees can distance, the risk is less than businesses that house hundreds of people in tiny cubicles situated right next to each other.  Businesses will want to shape policy around these circumstances, but individuals can take measures to safeguard their own health regardless.


Everyday preventative action.


These are the things we have gotten used to doing since the    pandemic began.  Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between you and others, get vaccinated when it is available to you, avoid crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces if possible, and wash your hands often with soap and water, using hand sanitizer when a sink and soap are not available.


Be prepared.


Make sure that every day you leave your home, you bring the necessary tools to keep yourself safe and healthy.  This is not just for COVID prevention, but to thwart all manner of illness-both respiratory and gastrointestinal.  Your “to-go kit” should include a clean mask (or several, in case you drop the first), hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.


Keep your workspace clean.


Many companies have professional cleaners that sanitize desks and workspaces, but you may not want to rely on that alone to ensure the health of you, your coworkers, and the family you may go home to.  Keeping anti-bacterial wipes or sprat at your workstation to use throughout the day is a great way to give yourself that extra piece of mind that you are minimizing your exposure to harmful bacteria.


All these measures can help a healthy employee stay healthy, but other actions will need to be considered before you step foot in the building where you work.


Is there a possibility that you have COVID or have been around someone who tests positive for the virus?  If there is even a slim chance that either of these is true, get tested.  It has never been easier to get tested for COVID-its free, easy, and readily available at various locations.  You can check the CDC website, or call your primary care physician to set up a test.  You should also be tested if you experience multiple symptoms associated with COVID.


Are you a caregiver of children or someone with compromised immune systems?  This will mean resigning yourself you be extra vigilant in your precautionary measures both while at work and when returning home.  Many health care workers developed routines where they remove clothing before entering their homes after a workday, and then immediately shower before getting anywhere near loved ones.  This is a measure that may be difficult if you live in an apartment, but YouTube is full of inventive solutions for this.  This is particularly relevant as small children are yet unable to be vaccinated.


Clearly, the next phase of recovery from this deadly pandemic includes getting our workforce up and running, but no one wants to see a backslide of infection by being too hasty to return to office work.  Taking these precautions can ensure that everyone gets back to the business at hand while still being safe.