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Return to Office After COVID Checklist

Make sure your office is safe for employees after returning from COVID with this handy checklist!
Reem Abouemera
Copy Writer / Content writer

After the COVID-19 pandemic upended the workplace as we know it, employers and employees alike are eager to get back to the office. But before you open your doors, there are a few key considerations to take into account to ensure employee safety. That's especially that employees are reporting COVID-19 safety as their top concern when returning to the office.

This return-to-office after COVID checklist will help you ensure that your workplace is ready for employees to come back, with a focus on safety. That way, you can give your employees the peace of mind they need to return to work and be productive.

1. Update Your Cleaning Procedures

This one's inevitable. If you want employees to feel safe in the office, you need to step up your cleaning game and revisit your cleaning procedures. Employees will be looking for increased cleaning and sanitation efforts, so make sure you're up to the task.

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Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Increase the frequency of cleanings, especially in high-traffic areas (at least once a day).
  • Clean common areas more often, including bathrooms, kitchens, and elevators.
  • Use EPA-approved cleaners that are effective against COVID-19.
  • Make sure all cleaning supplies are readily available and that employees know where to find them.
  • Require employees to clean their own workstations after each use.

2. Establish Physical Distancing Measures

Next, you want to establish some physical distancing measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Employees will be looking for clear signage and guidelines on how to stay safe, so make sure you have a plan in place.

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Some ideas include:

  • Spacing out workstations (ideally, 6 feet apart).
  • Reducing the capacity of meeting rooms (instead of having large meetings, consider holding them virtually or breaking them into smaller groups).
  • Banning handshakes, hugging, and other physical contact.
  • Encouraging employees to take breaks outside instead of in common areas.
  • Clarifying when masks are and aren’t required (for example, you may require employees to wear masks in common areas but not at their desks).

3. Develop an Exposure Response Plan

You may be taking all preventative measures possible, but unfortunately, there's always a chance that someone in the office will get sick. That's why it's so important to have an exposure response plan in place.

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Your exposure response plan should include:

  • A plan for employees who have been exposed (for example, quarantining at home for 14 days).
  • A process for notifying employees of a positive case in the office (If you use Tribeloo, the app can provide data on who was in close proximity to the infected person within a certain date range, allowing you to quickly reach out to those employees).
  • A procedure for deep cleaning the office after a positive case.
  • A policy for flexible work arrangements (for example, allowing employees to work from home if they're not feeling well).

4. Limit Business Travel

While business travel is slowly but surely making a comeback, 66% of companies are expected to permanently change their travel policies post-COVID. That doesn't mean business travel is off the table altogether, but it does mean that companies are being more cautious about when and how employees travel for work.

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If you do have employees who need to travel for business, make sure you have a plan in place that adheres to CDC guidelines, including:

  • Requiring employees to get tested before and after travel.
  • Encouraging employees to take precautions while traveling, such as wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others.
  • Limiting the number of employees who travel at the same time.
  • Only allowing employees to travel if it's absolutely necessary.

5. Define Visitor/Customer Contact Protocols

Sometimes, it isn't possible to avoid contact with visitors or customers. If you have employees who interact with visitors or customers on a regular basis, make sure you have a plan in place for how those interactions will take place.

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Some ideas include:

  • Requiring visitors and customers to wear masks.
  • Encouraging visitors and customers to maintain a safe distance from employees.
  • Limiting the number of visitors and customers in the office at one time.
  • Providing hand sanitizer and/or disinfecting wipes for visitors and customers to use.
  • Installing clear partitions between employees and visitors/customers.

6. Space Out Meal and Rest Break Schedules

If your employees take breaks together, that increases the chances of them coming in contact with someone who is sick. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it's important to space out meal and rest break schedules so that employees aren't congregating in common areas.

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And if it's not applicable, an alternative way to go would be:

  • Encouraging employees to eat lunch outside instead of in the break room.
  • Creating more designated zones for employees to take their breaks (for example, one zone for eating and one zone for relaxing).
  • Allowing employees to take breaks at different times throughout the day.

7. Have a Business Continuity Plan in Case of a Large Outbreak

Hopefully, your company won't have to deal with a large outbreak of COVID-19, but it's always better to be prepared. That's why it's so important to have a business continuity plan in place in case you do have a large outbreak.

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Your business continuity plan should include:

  • How your company will function if a large number of employees are out sick.
  • How you will keep your customers and clients informed if there is an outbreak in the office.
  • How you will maintain employee morale during a difficult time.
  • How you will clean and disinfect the office.
  • Communication protocols for employees who are out sick.
  • Strategies for how your company will continue to operate if there is a prolonged outbreak.

8. Comply With Any Local Regulations

While this one's a given, it's still worth mentioning. Every state and city has different regulations in place for how businesses can operate during the pandemic, so make sure you're up to date on the latest guidelines. Don't forget to check for any industry-specific regulations as well.

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Some common regulations include:

  • Capacity limits (for example, limiting the number of employees who can be in the office at one time).
  • Social distancing requirements (for example, requiring employees to maintain a 6-foot distance from each other).
  • Mask mandates (for example, requiring employees to wear masks in common areas).
  • Occupancy limits (for example, limiting the number of people who can occupy a certain area at one time).

Final Words

COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work, but that doesn't mean your business can't operate safely. 

By following the return-to-office after COVID checklist, you're not only helping to keep your employees safe, but you're also helping to prevent the spread of the virus. So don't wait—implement these guidelines today and give your employees the peace of mind they deserve.


Reem Abouemera

As a content writer who has tried it all when it comes to working models– from the traditional 9-5 in an office to fully working remotely and everything in between. Reem now puts her experience with the various working style into words at Tribeloo, ultimately helping others make more informed decisions about their own work lives.

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