More time waiting for elevators. More time waiting to use the bathrooms. Less opportunities to meet with colleagues. Less need to freshen your lipstick.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, offices and other workplaces – along with sick policies – are going to be very different as more companies start asking employees to return to working on site in the coming months.
That’s according to the results from a survey of 150 human resources executives taken in mid-June by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Nearly all employers (93%) surveyed said they will provide and/or require employees to wear masks. More than 70% will require the same of any office visitors, if visitors are allowed at all. Roughly 82% said they will limit or exclude them.
In keeping with the evolving understanding about the most likely ways the virus is transmitted, only 14% said they would also provide or require workers to wear gloves. Gloves now are most typically recommended for people who are cleaning and disinfecting or working in medical settings with patients who may be infected with Covid-19. For everyone else, the advice remains to wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.
The vast majority of employers (93%) also plan to limit or forbid gatherings in shared spaces, including bathrooms, conference rooms and break rooms. Fifty-seven percent said they will limit elevator use and take workers’ temperatures when they arrive.
And nearly all (96%) will both reduce the number of workers on site and not allow those who do show up to be within six feet of each other.
Employees at most companies (93%) should also expect to be given plenty of sanitizing products, such as hand sanitizers and bleach wipes. And your employer is likely to be doing more cleaning than ever before. A full 89% said they would conduct regular deep cleaning of all work stations and work sites.
For many employees, however, none of these changes will affect them much. That’s because 43% of those surveyed said they would keep most of their employees working from home even after the pandemic.
New protocols if an employee gets Covid-19
Any push to bring employees back on site is going to be tempered by the reality that until there is an effective and widely used vaccine, the coronavirus poses a major health risk for employees and, by extension, to employers’ ability to function and compete.
For any employee diagnosed with Covid-19 and anyone at work who has been exposed to that person, nearly 90% of companies said they would require those people to quarantine for two weeks, the Challenger survey found. Forty-five percent said they would deep clean their facilities but remain open. Only 17% said they would shut their operations down.
Figuring out who has been exposed will require proactive measures by the employer. Nearly 52% of companies said they will conduct some form of contact tracing should an employee be diagnosed with Covid-19. That includes surveying workers, using an app to figure out who has been in contact with the affected worker, and using “internal experts” to conduct the contact tracing.