Will offices reopen after the coronavirus pandemic, or will they turn into ghost towns? Covid-19 doesn’t stop surging the US. Currently, some companies let their employees re-enter the workplaces after months of working from home. After temporarily saying goodbye to work meetings and staff socials, now, with the temperature taken regularly and many other security measures followed, some of us can go back to work. But is this want we really want? And, even more interestingly, what we really need?
Relying on an abundance of caution
Let’s call it the first step to fruitfully come back on the right work track. For those who are not going to transform their practice into online activity, here are some steps to make the office a safe place. In the absence of federal guidelines around the best practices, office managers will do what seems right to them. We will miss familiar gatherings by the water cooler and buzzing shared spaces. Such pleasures will surely disappear from office-spaces in the foreseeable future. The ‘social distancing’ of the future (a strongly abused term lately) now transforms into de-densifying. It is also used by many schools, and it refers to restricting the number of people who have access to a given space at any one time.
The concept of phased reopenings
Not all employees will return to a location at the same time. It will happen in waves over a while. In these after-pandemic new circumstances, business leaders will have to prioritize who returns when. Seems legit. What else will change? The physical layout of our offices. Submittable (the 100-person tech firm) reports experimenting with different seating arrangements to avoid cluttered workspaces. They are also planning staggered workdays. Teams will rotate between designated days in the office. Also, we should expect to have our temperature taken regularly.
The benefits of working out in nature
There’s no doubt that working in open spaces positively affects your productivity. Currently, health officials predict another wave of the virus this fall. It means that this staggered standard will likely continue over the next six to twelve months. While big office meetings may not officially be a thing of the past yet, we will surely have smaller groups in large meeting rooms. Not to forget that everyone will be wearing a face mask. The new normal: the virtual meetings and social gatherings online in a more (one must admit) casual style that has developed over the last two months. Sanitary kits designed especially for companies include sanitizer, masks, gloves, tissues, soap, a stylus pen for use on high-touch surfaces like printers and elevator buttons, and brass antimicrobial hook-style keys that can open door handles.
The new office normalcy
Offices will be, therefore, equipped with stations for personal protective accessories, safety kits, like hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves. Those articles will be new permanent fixtures in offices, placed at entrances, exits, and other strategic locations. Recycling masks and gloves mean taking this health practice even a step ahead. Workers will probably need to get into the habit of wiping down the surfaces of their desks and other office supplies. Employees will be forced to make health-dictated sacrifices, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Some businesses may spring for a body thermal scanner at office entrances, as Amazon has done at its warehouses. Willis Towers Watson’s research found that almost half of companies surveyed (47%) are enhancing healthcare benefits for employees in the face of Covid-19. Forty-five percent of respondents reported expanding wellbeing coverage, and 33% reported planning changes to paid time off policies.
Everything has a price
Experts predict that health insurance premiums for employers will rise in 2021 anywhere from 4% to 40%. This forecast is based on recent filings from health insurance companies with the District of Columbia’s department of insurance, securities, and banking. A report from Covered California predicted employers ‘no longer being able to offer affordable coverage, or dramatically shifting costs to employees.