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Workplace of the future: 4 ways offices will change post COVID-19

As we roll into summer, good news is starting to emerge from the fog of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many states are on the verge of reopening their economies, which means business as usual is about to resume.

Or is it? The pandemic proved that a highly contagious virus is all it takes to devastate peoples’ health and livelihoods. To prevent this from happening again, some of the measures society has taken will likely remain. At least for the time being. Tap or click here to see the proven methods to protect yourself from the coronavirus.

Of all the places reopening, your workplace will probably change the most in the near future. American workers are the lifeblood of the economy, which means protecting their health will be priority number one for most businesses. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the changes you might see once you’re back in the office.

As the lockdown ends, the changes are just beginning

In the latest Consumer Tech Update, Kim talks about the challenges faced by businesses in America as we pave the way towards reopening the economy. As businesses open their doors again, a few factors must be taken into consideration to make sure the process is smooth enough to be sustainable.

First, employee health and safety must be prioritized. Second, companies must find ways to do business without contributing to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tap or click to see how digital contact tracing might help the process.

Based on early discussions across multiple industries, here are just a few of the things you can expect when you go back to work for the first time in months.

1. Social distancing is here to stay

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Social standing isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. In fact, it’s been cited as one of the primary reasons America has been able to flatten the curve to the extent that it has. Tap or click here to see how social distancing protects you from inhaling viral particles.

When you go back to work, you can expect the practices seen in essential businesses around the country to apply to yours as well. Some companies plan on placing arrows on the ground to direct one-way foot traffic. Others plan on separate entrances and exits to keep employees as far apart from one another as possible.

To illustrate how far some companies are going to implement social distancing, automaker Ford is requiring employees to wear wristbands that buzz whenever they come within six feet of one another!

Not only will workplaces use social distancing measures on-the-job, but you’ll also see the same logic applied to meetings and company gatherings. Facebook, for example, will not be allowing in-person meetings of more than 50 people at its company campus. Instead, expect virtual meetings like the kind you’re having on Zoom right now.

On the subject of virtual meetings, it’s also safe to assume that work-from-home options will continue to be available for companies that can manage it.

The COVID-19 pandemic was an excellent case study towards which businesses can function remotely, and we’d say that employees who are able to work from home may have this as an option in the future. Tap or click here to see what you need to work from home.

For those of us who will be going back to the office, it’s not all bad. In fact, your workspace will likely be getting a bit more elbow-room. Cramped employee quarters are a risk for spreading the virus, which means that desks and seats will be separated by six feet of space or more going forward.

Of all the changes coming, we think that this one will go over well with most employees.

2. Your desk is getting a hygienic makeover

Speaking of desks, the “open office plan” that’s come to dominate workplaces since the rise of Silicon Valley may be going the way of the dodo. In an open office, people are often placed close together with little-to-no barriers between them. While this has the potential to facilitate teamwork, it carries a unique risk of spreading aerosol particles.

Instead, expect work desks to take on the cubicle shape of yesteryear — complete with fold-out walls that you can pin your various papers and photos on.

Some employees are also discussing providing disposable placemats that can fit over keyboards and workspaces. This will keep germs from settling on surfaces, and make it easier to clean up your area at the end of the day.

Beyond that, expect your workplace to make bottles of hand sanitizer and soap easily available. Frequent handwashing will be encouraged, if not mandatory, at most businesses.

3. Making sure you’re well enough to work

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Mandatory health measures like masks may also be required at some jobs, but not all. Many places like restaurants and grocery stores are already providing masks for employees, and some have given their workers approval to bring their own masks from home.

This may be something to discuss with your boss or human resources in the future. After all, mask supplies are still low, and many people are making their own out of fabric at home. Tap or click to find out how to make one.

Contact tracing, like the kind Google and Apple are collaborating on, may also be provided in digital form by employers to workers. This would allow companies to keep tabs on the health status of their employees and will make it easier to determine how risky the threat of infection is at their workplace.

You’re also going to see temperature checks becoming a common phenomenon at many companies across the world. Handheld scanning thermometers are already popular across much of Asia, and factory workers in China have started receiving temperature checks upon clocking in for the day.

And if it turns out you’re even a little bit sick, you’ll be asked to stay home. The classic American ideal of toughing it out through a cold or flu won’t be tolerated at work in the future. It’s too risky in the wake of COVID-19.

4. A cleaner workplace from here on out

This goes without saying, but a cleaner workplace is one of the best ways to keep the virus away. Just like with our hands, frequent cleaning of surfaces prevents viral particles from accumulating, which can contribute to the spread of disease.

Disinfecting wipes will be regularly available, and the cleaning staff will likely be spending far more time cleaning frequently touched surfaces. In addition, ventilation and filters will see an uptick in maintenance and replacement. This can help catch airborne particles before anyone has a chance to get infected.

Ultimately, life will go on and work will continue. But with the memory of COVID-19 so fresh in our minds, we’re well on our way to becoming a far cleaner society than we were in months before. If this can help us become even more inhospitable to the virus, perhaps we’ll see cases decline in the future as we go on with our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you should rely on your employers to do the work for you. Keep up your social distancing and hygiene practices in your own daily life to keep that curve as flat as possible. Your body (and countless others) will thank you for it.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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