Employers are starting to reopen offices, with employees returning to work on a partial or full schedule. As you prepare to return back to your office, make sure that you are asking your employer or building manager the following questions to ensure your health and safety:
1. How is cleaning and sanitization being adjusted to prevent the spread of disease?
The answer you want to receive to this question includes deep cleaning that was performed while the building was empty in order to rid the building of any potentially lingering virus from the previous occupation, as well as plans to increase the sanitation practices.
Plans should include:
- increased access for staff to cleaning supplies,
- increased cleaning or adjustments for use of high-touch surfaces or high-traffic areas, and
- the following of guidelines from the CDC and the American Industrial Hygiene Association.
2. What guidelines are being put in place to ensure health & safety?
This is definitely a larger question and encompasses many different aspects of work.
Some aspects you may want to ensure your company addresses include:
- Will staff be required to wear masks?
- Are there certain areas of the building that will be closed (such as gathering places like staff lounges, cafeterias, etc)?
- Will there be guidelines for the number of people accessing shared spaces, such as elevators and restrooms?
- How will work-related travel be handled?
- How will current and ongoing changes to policies be communicated?
3. How is the building to be accessed, and how are you ensuring that people entering the building are healthy?
From this question you want to understand whether or not people will be screened for health as they enter the building.
- How many entrance points will be available?
- Will temperatures be taken or some other health screening performed?
- How will deliveries or visitors be handled?
4. What is being done to ensure distancing?
You want to ensure that the details of a work day have been thought through here. Work spaces are the obvious place to start. If everyone previously had their own office, this is not a concern; however, if your office – like most these days – has a more open layout, you need to make sure that there will be plenty of distance, and possibly some sort of barrier (like a cubicle partition).
- How will meetings be handled and shared meeting spaces sanitized?
- Will there be signs and markers on the floors or entries to shared spaces?
- Will there be occupancy limits to offices?
- If your employer has multiple locations, how will work and travel between the different offices be handled?
5. What occupancy level will the building or office return to?
- Will all employees be returning to work at the same time, or will employees return in alternating shifts or phases?
- Are staggered work days an option?
- Will these adjustments be permanent or temporary?
Keep in mind that the health and well-being of you and your fellow employees should be the biggest concern for your employer. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions, challenge decisions, and provide suggestions in order to ensure your safety concerns are being addressed. You can download a copy of this list here: