Returning to the office

Now is the time for companies to plan for the return of non-essential workers back to the office. When planning the return they need to navigate an ever-changing landscape of new thinking and observations. It seems to be updated daily. Now that many companies have found they can work somewhat effectively from home there may be no rush to return to the office. A recent survey of CFOs found that companies think 5% of their workforce can effectively work from home. This is good news as the office changes recommended are for a lower density of workers.  Here are some must-haves to ponder.

Arrival At office

Maybe the first thing you meet when you arrive will be a temperature check or a UV sanitizing gate. If your office is in a high rise building it is probable that you may have to wait in line to enter the building as the elevator may be the cause of the backlog.  Six feet protocols should be introduced as employees wait.  There may be other changes that employers could introduce to mitigate lines like certain floors/companies staggering start times.

Hand Sanitation

A hand sanitation station should be placed at every entrance, that way employees have a chance to clean their hands before they enter the office.


Most elevators are 6.5-7 feet wide and 6 feet deep therefore no more than four people should ride the elevator together. It is recommended to place ‘stand here’ stickers on each corner of the elevator to remind people of social distancing.  When two people are riding the elevator they should stand in diagonally opposite corners of the elevator.

Door Opening

Touch-free door hooks that fit on a key chain can be used to clasp door handles or press elevator buttons.

Inside the Office

Inside the office, it is best to set up a one-way traffic flow clockwise around the office.  Floor signs that have been seen in stores are ideal for this to remind employees of social distancing.  There may also need to be reminders that we continually, throughout the day, keep the clockwise protocol.


The new office will have less density. Desks may need to be moved to allow 6 feet apart from the next employee.  Plexiglass can provide an extra layer of protection when installed between desks that face each other.  Stickers that indicate six feet circles around each desk can be placed on the floor.  Open spaced desks will need to be moved six feet apart and separated by plexiglass.  Shared spaces are recommended to be moved to single occupancy.

Meeting Rooms

Meeting rooms need to have chairs placed 6 feet distance apart.  A meeting protocol for entering and leaving the meeting too, the clockwise only protocol is recommended.  First-person to the meeting goes into the furthest chair.  When the meeting concludes the participant nearest the door starts the clockwise procession out of the meeting room.

Desk pad and Desk

A paper desk pad that you place on your desk daily is recommended and when you leave your desk at the end of the day it should be cleared, that way janitorial staff can easily clean your area.

Common Areas

In addition to no uncovered food and no sharing of food, common areas should be subject to enhanced sanitization procedures with common touchpoints being cleaned every 2-4 hours.

Prior to office reopening,  tenants and landlord should do pre-return of inspections, cleaning, and mechanical checks.  In working together and sharing updates with employees, a safe working space can be assured.