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It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic sent employees home to work remotely. The question of when to return to the office for those employees has been halting, difficult and uncertain. As coronavirus cases decline and COVID vaccines become more widely available, the discussion of returning to the office is increasing.

Many executives noted the rate of vaccination was the most important variable in deciding when to return to the office. President Biden recently announced the United States is “on track” to have enough vaccines for every adult by the end of May. Many businesses and employees are eager to return to work-life normalcy, with in-person meetings and collaboration, coffee shop lunch breaks and after-work happy hours.

Corporations around the country (and world) are deciding how and when to go back to the office safely as the pandemic becomes less of a threat. Roughly 40% of employers that shifted to remote work at the start of the coronavirus pandemic are planning to have their workers return to the office as early as March 2021. Major tech companies, including Facebook and Google, announced they will be returning to the office in April and early May. Others are shifting toward hybrid office models before the summer.

Tips for Returning to the Office Safely During COVID-19

There is no universal answer for when to return to the office. There are a variety of factors that companies must consider before making a decision to go back, including your local conditions surrounding the virus and your specific workforce. Here are some tips for going back to the office safely:

Review your local health guidelines and CDC standards.

Prepare for safe return to the office by reviewing your local health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. Ensure proper hygiene measures are met, including personal protective equipment (PPE) use and testing protocols.

Assess your space.

Before going back to the office, it’s important that you make sure your space accommodates the public health recommendations of the CDC and prioritizes employee health and safety. You may need to improve air quality and ventilation, and adjust your workspaces to maintain physical distancing.

Develop a plan and educate your employees.

After reviewing authoritative health guidelines and evaluating your space, develop a detailed plan for returning to the office. Include cleaning procedures, PPE use, response to COVID-19 infection or exposure, sick leave policies and vaccination. Then, communicate your plans for safe return to employees to ensure compliance!