The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has introduced sweeping new recommendations for how offices reopen and welcome back workers. 

In the guidelines, the federal health agency suggests that employees have their temperatures taken upon arriving at the workplace.

Desks should be placed at least six feet apart or, if not possible, plastic and plexiglass shields should be erected. 

Officials recommend that communal ‘coffee pots, water coolers and bulk snacks’ be banned and replaced with pre-packaged items.

Additionally, businesses should ‘prohibit handshaking, hugs and fist bumps’ and mandate that employees wear face masks at all times. 

If employees follow the guidelines, it would completely reshape American office life and common workplace practices.     

Employees should have their temperatures taken and be checked for any symptoms before entering the workplace, according to new CDC guidelines for how to safely reopen offices (file image

If desks can’t be placed six feet apart, then either or plexiglass barriers should be erected around every person (pictured) 

Meeting rooms should limit occupancy (pictured) while ‘coffee pots, water cooler and bulk snacks’ should be replaced with ‘alternatives such as pre-packaged, single-serving items’

‘You, as the employer, are responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns and informing employees of the hazards in your workplace,’ the CDC wrote. 

‘Remind employees that people may be able to spread COVID-19 even if they do not show symptoms.’

The first step, before any workers even set foot in the building, is to make sure the office has been properly cleaned.

This includes ensuring ventilator system have clean filters and that other dangers such as rodents and mold growth are removed. 

Officials also suggest that windows are opened to let in as much air as possible to circulate throughout the building.

Any common areas – such as meeting rooms and cafeterias – will have to be redesigned to make sure no one contracts the virus. 

This includes signs reminding people to social distance, wear face masks and use proper hand hygiene. 

Additionally, the number of people on an elevator should be limited, with everyone standing six feet apart. 

The CDC also recommends that chairs in reception areas be removed or have signs forbidding sitting.

‘Consider all close interactions (within six feet) with employees, clients, and others as a potential source of exposure,’ the agency wrote. 

Offices will also have to be reengineered.

Desks should be placed six feet apart and, if that’s not possible. physical see-through barriers should be erected around each person. 

The CDC suggests also recommends that every employee get daily or in-person temperature and symptom checks before entering the workplace

Door knobs and refrigerator handles should be disinfected as often as possible and trash cans should either have a foot pedal or a motion sensor. 

In the cafeteria or kitchen areas, ‘coffee pots, water cooler and bulk snacks’ should be replaced with ‘alternatives such as pre-packaged, single-serving items,’ the CDC wrote.

Also, at least temporarily, employees are encouraged to travel to work via car, single occupancy ride shares or by bicycle.

‘This means many fewer workplaces per floor, reducing the density considerably,’ Peter Kimmel, publisher of FMLink, a publication about the facilities management industry, told The New York Times. 

‘Where will the remaining workers be housed? Will the furniture work in the new layout?

‘While there are many solutions, these often require substantial thought and a budget that likely doesn’t exist.’ 

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