4 changes employees can expect when returning to the office

The coronavirus has already changed the way we work. Now it’s changing the physical space, too.
Many companies are making adjustments to their offices to help employees feel safer as they return to in-person work.
Here are some changes that employees can expect when returning to the office:

1. Redesigning the space

Architects and designers say this is a time of experimentation and reflection for employers. Steelcase, an office furniture company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says its research indicates half of global companies plan major redesigns to their office space this year. Some changes include improving air circulation systems or moving desks further apart. Others are ditching desks and building more conference rooms to accommodate employees who still work remotely but come in for meetings.

2. Improve work health

To improve mental health, pharmaceutical company Ajinomoto transformed a planned work area into a spa-like “relaxation room” with reclining chairs and soft music. A test kitchen is wired for virtual presentations in case clients don’t want to travel. And a cleaning crew comes through twice a day, leaving Post-it notes to show what’s been disinfected.

3. Commitment to hybrid work

Valiant Technologies, which provides tech support and other services to businesses, is letting its employees work primarily at home but has them reserve a desk for the days they want to come to the office. The New York company has removed rows of desks and put more space between the remaining ones. Employees leave their keyboard, mouse and headsets in lockers.

4. Training on steps to take to protect yourself at work

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging employers to communicate and train employees on how to protect themselves at work. Topics should include signs and symptoms of infection, staying home when ill, social distancing, cloth face coverings, hand hygiene practices, and identifying and minimizing potential routes of transmission at work, at home, and in the community.
A report by the Associated Press contributed to this guide.