Coronavirus has dramatically changed nearly every aspect of life around the globe.
In the workplace, employers have made dozens of changes big and small in order to safeguard their most valuable resource: their employees.
Companies have also come to realize that opening safely, and protecting customers, is good business.
Here are the steps many companies are taking to keep employees and customers safe in the time of an unchecked, community-spread virus that is deadly for a significant portion of the populace.
Masking: The most obvious change is mandatory masks. Required when working inside and often even required when working outside, masks remain the best way to reduce the spread of the virus. Employers need to keep workers on the job and healthy, and in many states masks are mandated by governors, so they are here to stay for now.
Spacing: Where once we had desks crowded together, and tight lines of people gathering to purchase products, social distancing is the new name of the game. Floors have stickers on them indicating the proper distance to stand from one another while in line, and desks are separated from each other so employees are less likely to transmit the virus.
Shielding: Especially in places where employees deal with the general public, shielding is the name of the game. Though generally this is plexiglass, periodically this means clear showercurtains. The goal is to allow the interaction without allowing droplets of sweat or saliva to cross the border.
Sanitizing: The demand for hand sanitizers spiked at the start of the coronavirus era. Distillers even found it profitable or simply good public relations to turn their stills into hand sanitizer factories as the nation’s shelves emptied. Once upon a time, you could only sanitize at the desk of your company’s strictest clean freak, and now there is a dispenser on nearly every surface.
Altering workflow: Maybe you recently found your bank office closed and were forced through the drive-thru. Maybe your business has one entrance, and you must exit from a different door. You have noticed the calculus that many employers and the CDC are making: Preventing people from passing close to each other by using space creatively to reduce interaction is another great way to reduce transmission.
Checking temperatures: As many schools and offices re-opened after the initial quarantine, the world became obsessed with one of the first visible signs that someone had contracted COVID-19: a fever. Now people are checking theirs at home daily, or getting it checked for them as they enter their office. Children are being checked each day at school, and the results are being monitored. Noticing a fever prompts a close look for other symptoms – from the safety of your own home.
Testing: In places where the work must continue in person, such as in politics and professional sports, safety experts are mandating instant testing for everyone who comes in contact with certain people. This is most visible in the White House where, despite assuring us that there is nothing to fear, they nonetheless test everyone and send them away if there is a concern for the President’s safety.
Bubbling: In extreme cases where the work is crucial to income or survival and the families are willing to make the sacrifice, some groups have chosen to create a protective bubble. The most visible example of this is the NBA, whose bubble was so strict that one player got a 14 day unpaid quarantine when he broke ranks to get his favorite wings.
These and other steps are being used to help keep employees and customers safe, and to keep the wheels of commerce and progress rolling.