By now, most of the country is in some phase of re-opening after months of stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. So far, states have focused on retail and restaurants in phased re-opening plans, but office-using businesses are starting to imagine a path to populating buildings again. Like retailers, most businesses will execute a phased re-opening, with office workers returning slowly and in groups, according to a study from CBRE. The study found that 72% of businesses will conduct a phased reopening.
“As our study indicated, most companies and organizations will use a phased re-entry strategy. Common responses range from 15-20% of employees returning to their place of work for each phase,” Karen Ellzey, executive managing director of CBRE’s reopening the world’s workplaces taskforce, tells The study found that 78% of companies will implement social distancing in the workplace, and 59% of businesses will require facemasks.
There are a number of benefits to a phased return Chiefly, it will help create a safe spaces for workers and help ease the transition back to normal life. “Companies and organizations are choosing to implement phased approaches to reopening offices and similar environments because it is widely recommended by guidance authorities such as CDC as a key strategy for achieving social distancing,” says Ellzey. “Phasing also eases crowding in public transportation, helps alleviate the formation of queues near elevators, and creates a more comfortable experience for employees inside the workplace. Employers recognize that governmental orders and public health guidance is evolving as more is learned about COVID-19.”
Initially, businesses will take rigorous steps to ensure safety, including installing signage, reconfiguring layouts and requiring health screenings. However, these restrictions will evolve as the public health crisis improves. “As work environments begin to reopen, these companies and organizations will adjust their workplace configurations and practices based on expert guidance as well as their own lessons learned,” says Ellzey. “Examples might include under what circumstances face coverings are to be worn in the office, the best way to conduct daily health screenings, or the use of emerging Track and Trace technologies to help break the chains of transmission.”
In implementing a phased re-opening, businesses should partner with internal leadership and human resources to organize how and who will return in each phase. “Decisions on who to bring back first and how to organize the return should be made in collaboration with a company’s lines of business,” says Ellzey. “Many of our clients are looking carefully at work functions to delineate tasks that can be performed at home, versus what functions require collaboration and teaming.” Ellzey adds that business leaders should also consider how different groups of employees fit into this plan. “Other considerations might include special considerations for vulnerable employees, which groups and departments need in-person collaboration, if teams should be divided in their work from home days in order to mitigate risk (should a spike in cases reoccur), or how to enable innovative thinking to maintain a competitive advantage corporately.”
Source: “The Master Plan to Re-Open Office Space