The CDC’s new guidelines for office buildings fly in the face of what had become standard corporate office practice over the past few years: no more open office plans, no communal kitchens, and no carpooling or taking public transit to and from the office.
As states implement their reopening procedures and businesses follow, the CDC’s guidelines for office workers lay out advisories for halting the spread of COVID-19 in an office environment.
There will likely be no more gathering around the water cooler, or even the coffee machine. Businesses are encouraged to “replace high-touch communal items, such as coffee pots, water coolers, and bulk snacks, with alternatives such as prepackaged, single-serving items,” the guidelines state.
Employers are supposed to identify potential places around the office where employees could come in close contact with each other: cafeterias, locker rooms, check-in and waiting areas, and points of entry or exit. They should rethink movement around the office to avoid clustering.
“We put arrows on the floor so people will go to the restroom one direction and come out the other,” Igor Faletski, chief executive of Mobify, a Vancouver digital company, explained of his new office practices to the New York Times. “No more shared food. Sanitation stations with wipes.”
With this dizzying list of new regulations, some companies might not ever return to their office space. Earlier this month, Twitter announced that most employees could continue working from home permanently if they wished, even after stay-at-home orders lift and the pandemic passes, Buzzfeed reported.
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