The Centre for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) have released a set of guidelines to assist employers thinking of reopening their offices. Whilst most offices will remain closed with staff working from home for the foreseeable future, some will have no choice but to open. If you’re discussing this with your employers, here’s what you need to know…

Employers should implement the following safety actions before reopening in order to protect their employees:

– Promote healthy hygiene practices (this should be obvious, but handwashing, desk cleaning and hand gel should be everywhere);
– Intensify cleaning and disinfection;
– No large events to be held – small static groups only;
– Cancel all non-essential travel and encourage alternative commuting and virtual work;
– Restrict use of shared items and spaces (consider closing common areas, spacing between desks, bring your own lunch items and get rid of the shared kettle for now);
– Train all staff in the above.

Employers should also implement safeguards to monitor the well-being of their employees:

– Sick employees must stay at home;
– Establish routine, daily employee health checks;
– Monitor absenteeism and have flexi-time policies;
– Have an action plan in place should a member of staff get COVID-19;
– Create and test emergency channels for employees (WhatApp, Video Calls, etc);
– Establish communication with local health authorities.

Then of course, the physical workplace should be prepared for workers and visitors entering the building:

– Normal routine cleaning to be carried out in places that have been unoccupied in the last 7 days;
– If the area has been occupied in the last 7 days, frequently touched surfaces made of glass metal or plastic should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. Softer objects made of carpet, rugs or materials in seating areas should be thoroughly cleaned or laundered, or removed where possible.
– Normal routine cleaning for outdoor areas.

Mainly – stay vigilant and be prepared to close facilities if another outbreak occurs.