It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the world works. Although some companies continue to work remotely, many have returned to a physical office — but not everything is back to normal.
Both employers and employees have a responsibility to prevent (or at least slow) the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace by following the most current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Preventing and Reducing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace
Because COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease that can be spread when an infected person talks, sneezes, coughs or even exhales, important measures should be taken to keep everyone in the office healthy.
Workplace Recommendations for Employees
Here are actions you should take as an employee if you work in an office:
- If you're exhibiting signs of COVID-19, stay home and get tested.
- If you're asymptomatic but have tested positive for COVID-19, isolate and follow recommendations from the CDC to help prevent the virus from spreading.
- If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, notify your supervisor and ask if they want you to come in or stay home.
- Continue to social distance no matter what the rules of your office are.
- If you need to cough or sneeze, be sure to cover yourself properly and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds afterward.
Workplace Recommendations for Employers
Here are actions you should take a business to keep your office safe:
- Clean and disinfect your office regularly.
- Encourage employees with symptoms to stay home and get tested.
- Come up with a procedure in case one of your employees gets sick during the workday.
- Set up desks and conference rooms at least six feet apart if possible to encourage social distancing.
- Offer at-home work and meeting options for employees.
- Put non-essential travel on hold and advise employees who have to travel that they should follow the latest travel guidance from the CDC.
- Do not provide shared items such as utensils, drinking glasses or dishware as this could play a part in spreading the virus.
- If you are unvaccinated, you should continue to wear a mask to the office each day.
Maintaining a Normal Workflow During the Pandemic
The global pandemic has had a strong impact on business operations for most companies.
To help minimize the impact on your business, you may want to consider having someone in your office who serves as a workplace coordinator. This person can handle issues related to COVID-19 and its impact on the workplace.
Make sure your employees know your sick policy is flexible during this time and that you're supportive of them staying home to quarantine or care for a sick family member if needed. Communicate all policies clearly and regularly.
It's also a good idea to take a step back and look at your company's HR policies. Make sure that they are consistent with the latest recommendations from the CDC.
You should also come up with a game plan in the case that absenteeism spikes. How will you continue your essential business functions with significantly fewer people working?
One way to prepare for an increase in sick or absent employees is to cross-train employees so that they can perform essential functions when others are gone.
Keeping Your Work Environment Healthy During COVID-19
Unfortunately, COVID-19 can be spread even by people who have no symptoms — and the virus can be spread on contaminated surfaces. Because of this, it's important that you keep your work environment as healthy as possible.
Here are a few ways you can improve the ventilation system in your office place:
- Increase air ventilation from the outdoors.
- If the weather is nice outside, keep windows and doors open to increase fresh outdoor air. Always check to make sure no employees suffer from asthma that may be triggered by the outdoor air.
- Utilize fans to create even more airflow.
- Consider purchasing a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration system to purify the air even more.
- Make sure employees have everything they need to regularly wash their hands and properly cover themselves when they cough and sneeze.
- Routinely clean and disinfect the office to reduce the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
What to Do If You Believe You've Been Exposed to COVID-19
If you believe you've been exposed to COVID-19 either at the office or someplace else, it's important that you take the appropriate steps to keep yourself safe and protect those in your office.
Even if you have mild symptoms, it's a good idea to get tested so you can alert coworkers, family members and those you have been around if you test positive.
If you do test positive for COVID-19, you should get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. While there is no cure if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, several over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen can help alleviate any discomfort you may be experiencing.
If you're experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms or have been exposed to a close contact with the virus and need to get tested, you can visit select CareNow® Urgent Care clinics.
CareNow® offers both rapid testing and commercial laboratory testing. Rapid testing is performed in our clinics and you will have your results in 15 minutes. Commercial laboratory testing or polymerase chain reaction (PCR), is an even more accurate type of COVID-19 test performed in an offsite laboratory which takes anywhere from two to five days to get receive results.
Our qualified healthcare professionals will review your medical history, ask you about your current symptoms and give you a medical exam before the test is administered. Be sure to bring your driver's license and insurance card (if you have one) to your appointment.
We also offer the option to check-in online before your appointment so you can wait from anywhere that's convenient for you instead of being stuck in the waiting room. To utilize our Web Check-In® feature, visit our website.
Disclaimer: Patients' health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.