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Here's what office life could look like amid COVID-19, according to new CDC guidelines

An employee at the Vauxhall car factory in the United Kingdom working in his office during preparedness tests and redesign ahead of re-opening following the COVID-19 outbreak.
An employee at the Vauxhall car factory in the United Kingdom working in his office during preparedness tests and redesign ahead of re-opening following the COVID-19 outbreak.
(Image: © Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Say goodbye to the office water cooler — U.S. offices that reopen this year will likely undergo substantial changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The guidelines recommend offices take a number of steps to help keep workers safe. 

These include conducting daily temperature screenings and symptom checks before workers enter the office, requiring employees to wear face coverings in all areas of the work space, moving workstations to keep employees at least 6 feet apart, placing markings on the floor to facilitate social distancing and installing transparent "shields" in places where social distancing is not an option.

What's more, office perks such as coffee pots, water coolers and snack bins should be removed and replaced with pre-packaged and single-serving items, the agency said. And in addition to frequent office cleanings, employees should be provided with disposable wipes to wipe down frequently touched surfaces before use. 

Related: Coronavirus outbreak: Live updates

Ventilation in the office should also be improved, for example, by opening windows when possible and increasing air filtration.

And after years of encouraging workers to take public transportation or carpool, the CDC is now recommending employers do the opposite. Workers should be encouraged to commute to work alone, and employers should offer incentives for this commute, such as reimbursements for parking and flexible work hours so employees can commute at less busy times.

Finally, handshakes, hugs and fist bumps should be prohibited.

Some businesses have already announced plans for gradually reopening their offices. For example, Google recently announced plans to open offices on a limited basis in July, keeping buildings at 10% occupancy, and growing to 30% occupancy by September, according to CNN. On the other hand, some offices are not rushing to reopen — Twitter recently told its employees that they could work from home forever if they want, according to the BBC.

Originally published on Live Science.  

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  • jbundy48
    I'm so glad I am retired. They'll take out all the joy and comradery of working in a group and sharing in an environment with coffee, snacks and (horrors) pot lucks. I'd rather work at home now rather than a joyless office like that.
    Reply