As a nation and a globe, we are not entirely safeguarded from the COVID-19 virus. However, thanks to the relentless efforts of healthcare workers, hospitals, sanitation crews, researchers, and other COVID-19 heroes, many states are allowing for the reopening of many types of businesses with some safety restrictions and precautions. Whether you work in a restaurant, office, school, retail space, or another venue, if you will soon be returning to work onsite, follow all the safety measures outlined by your employer and consider the additional guidance below as general return-to-work best practices.
1. Do Not Go to Work if You have a Fever or Cough
Every person must remain hypervigilant of their health and do their part to stop the possible spread of this dangerous and deadly virus. If you have a fever, cough, or believe you may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, particularly if you have been exposed to a patient diagnosed with the virus, call out of work and stay home.
2. Take Advantage of Services Available from Your Employer
Many employers are partnering with healthcare entities to offer COVID-19 antibody or antigen testing and disease management counseling. Find out what options are available to you and consider leveraging them to assess your risk so that you can protect yourself, your family, and your co-workers accordingly.
3. Continue to Maintain Social Distance
Your employer will likely invite you back to your workspace with requirements for staff members to maintain a safe distance from one another while working. Take every precaution possible to maintain a safe social distance while working, on breaks, when passing through hallways, while traversing designated parking areas, and while in meetings.
4. Wear a Face Covering
Follow your employer’s requirements regarding the use of face coverings while on the premise. This safety measure is particularly crucial if you work in the service, retail, or restaurant industries and will be interacting with a variety of customers throughout your shift.
5. Continue to Telework, if Possible
Many businesses have found during the safer-at-home mandate, that they can productively conduct business with the majority—or entirety—of their workforce working remotely. If you are an employee who can telework, and your employer is continuing to allow staff to telework on an individual basis, do so at least for the short-term. Until there is a cure or vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, maintaining social distance is still the best way to mitigate possible contagion. If you can work from home, plan to do so.
6. Open a Window
To help minimize the risk of the airborne virus circulating your office or retail space, open windows or doors and use fans to help circulate air.
7. Minimize Exposure to Common Areas
The virus may be more likely to spread in common areas frequented by employees, such as breakrooms, cafeterias, conference rooms, locker rooms, waiting rooms, fitness areas, and lobbies. As much as you can, minimize the amount of time you spend in common areas.
8. Sanitize and Wash Hands Frequently
Continue to follow the CDC’s best practices for personal sanitation habits. Disinfect common areas in your workspace and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds frequently throughout the day. Disinfect and sanitize door handles electronic devices and equipment, per your employer’s safety and sanitation guidelines.
Many Americans are elated by the prospect of returning to work and the activities they enjoyed before COVID-19. Still, keep in mind that the COVID-19 virus has not been eradicated. It remains present in our society and is putting peoples’ lives at risk. Do your part to reenter the workforce safely. There is no returning entirely to life before COVID-19, but there are ways to adapt to the new normal, while still keeping yourself, your family, friends, peers, and co-workers safe.