While much of the recent advice for our industry has focused on keeping healthcare workers and healthcare delivery environments safe, little attention has been paid to reopening offices. However, most home care, home health, and hospice providers operate out of offices. And reopening those offices safely is of paramount importance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released guidance on best practices for safely reopening office buildings as states begin to lift restrictions on stay-at-home orders.

Here are a few CDC recommendations:

Check the building:

  • Make sure ventilation systems work properly.
  • Open windows, doors, and use fans to increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible.
  • Consider using portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to help enhance air (especially in higher risk areas).
  • Check exhaust fans in restrooms to ensure they function at full capacity.
  • Encourage the use of outdoor seating areas and social distancing for any small group activities such as lunches, breaks, and meetings.

Identify hot spots:

  • Identify all common areas where employees may have close contact with each other (meeting rooms, break rooms, kitchens, reception areas, etc.).
  • Modify hotspots by installing transparent shields or other physical barriers or limit the number of employees allowed in those areas at a given time.
  • In reception areas, remove chairs to maintain social distance, or indicate which chairs can and cannot be used. For example, place tape over every other chair to keep people separated.

Clarify workers’ responsibilities:

  • Remind employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 to notify their supervisor and stay home.
  • Consider conducting a daily health check of employees before they enter the building. This could include asking the employee if they have any fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms associated with COVID-19. In addition, employers may choose to check the employee’s temperature before entering the workplace.
  • Stagger shifts, start times, break times, or days in the office to reduce the density of employees in the office.
  • Ask each employee to clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in their personal work areas.
  • Assign someone to routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as handrails, printer/copiers, water coolers, and doorknobs.
  • Make disposable wipes and other cleaning materials available and easily accessible so employees can wipe down frequently touched surfaces (such as the printer or coffee maker) before each use.
  • Prohibit handshaking, hugs, and fist bumps.
  • Limit use and occupancy of elevators to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.

Guidelines for visitors to the office building:

  • Install transparent shields or other physical barriers where possible to separate employees and visitors where social distancing is not an option.
  • Consider posting signs in parking areas and entrances that ask guests and visitors to phone from their cars to inform the administration or security when they reach the facility.
  • Consider posting signs in parking areas and entrances that ask guests and visitors to wear cloth face coverings if possible, to not enter the building if they are sick, and to stay 6 feet away from employees, if possible.

PLEASE NOTE: The advice posted here covers just a few of the CDC’s guidelines and recommendations on safely reopening an office. Be sure to read the full guidance HERE.

Get more information.

  • The CDC has free, printable posters available HERE.
  • Be sure to review OSHA’s guidance HERE.

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