NEW YORK • Upon arriving at work, employees should get a temperature and symptom check.
Inside the office, desks should be at least 1.8m apart. If that is not possible, employers should consider erecting plastic shields around desks.
Seating should be barred in common areas. And face coverings should be worn at all times.
These are among sweeping new recommendations from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the safest way for American employers to reopen their offices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Office building employers, building owners and managers, and building operations specialists can take steps to create a safe and healthy workplace and protect workers and clients,” the CDC said in its guidelines for businesses and workplaces, posted online.
If followed, the guidelines would lead to a far-reaching remaking of the corporate work experience.
They even upend years of advice on commuting, urging people to drive to work by themselves, instead of taking mass transportation or carpooling, to avoid potential exposure to the virus.
The recommendations run from technical advice on ventilation systems (more open windows are most desirable) to suggested abolition of communal perks such as latte makers and snack bins.
“Replace high-touch communal items, such as coffee pots, water coolers and bulk snacks, with alternatives such as pre-packaged, single-serving items,” the guidelines say.
“Use no-touch waste receptacles when possible.
“Consider using natural ventilation (by opening windows if possible and safe to do so) to increase outdoor air dilution of indoor air when environmental conditions and building requirements allow.”
Another part stipulates: “Prohibit handshaking, hugs and fist bumps.”
Some of the suggestions border on the impractical, if not near impossible: “Limit use and occupancy of elevators to maintain social distancing of at least 1.8m.”
The CDC, the United States’ top public health agency, posted the guidelines on its website as states are beginning to lift their most stringent lockdown orders.
Shops, restaurants, beaches and parks are reopening in phases.
But white-collar office employees at all levels mostly continue to work from home, able to function effectively with laptops, videoconferencing and Slack.
Some of the measures are in keeping with what some employers are already planning, but others may simply decide it is easier to keep employees working from home.
“Companies, surprisingly, don’t want to go back to work,” said Mr Russell Hancock, president and chief executive of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a non-profit think-tank that studies the region.
Citing examples such as Twitter, which has said it may never return to corporate office space, Mr Hancock said that he has heard similar things from both Silicon Valley companies and those outside the region.
Facebook also announced last week that it would allow many of its employees to work from home permanently, though chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that employees may not be able to keep their big Silicon Valley salaries in more affordable parts of the country.
Many companies are planning to stay safe by thinning who is required to come in to work, along with making plans consistent with the CDC guidelines.