Remote Work vs. Office Return

Remote Work vs. Office Return: What Should Employers Do?

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines is ramping up and lock-down regulations are beginning to ease, employers need to consider how their work environment will look in the coming months. 

With this in mind, what measures can companies take to prevent or mitigate an outbreak at their place of work? 

  • Follow State Guidelines: If a state implements restrictions, employers should comply with these regulations. Failing to comply could result in harmful lawsuits.

  • Don\’t Shy Away From Remote Work (if Possible): The best way to keep employees safe—and limit legal risk—during the pandemic is to implement a work-from-home policy. In some cases, you may have to close down the office after reopening, which presents a prime opportunity to revisit and update your remote work policy. However, this isn\’t possible for every company. Depending on the industry, many organizations are unable to work remotely during this time of the year.

  • Adhere to CDC Best Practices: As mentioned above, not every employer can operate with an entirely remote workforce. Companies that require in-person workers must follow CDC guidelines to prevent outbreaks, loss of productivity, and serious illness. More on this below.

  • Stick to OSHA Guidance: Under the Biden administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidance to keep workers safe. Employers are encouraged to follow these guidelines.

  • Keep EEOC Guidelines in Mind: In December 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidelines for employers and employees to better understand how COVID-19 vaccinations interact legally with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This guidance includes exceptions under the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • Establish a Return-to-Work Timeline and Plan: Still having trouble deciding when to return to the office if you haven\’t already? Follow workplace guidance that helps employers consider vaccination protocols and learn more about how you can reopen your office during the pandemic.

  • Issue a Return-to-Work Communication When Ready: communicate your return-to-work process and procedures.

What Else Can Employers Do to Keep Teams Safe?

The CDC continues to update best practices to mitigate and monitor the virus’s spread—and, importantly, how to keep employees safe in the workplace. These can include: 

  • Promote Health Hygiene Practices: Handwashing remains an important part of preventing, particularly after being in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • Intensify Cleaning, Disinfection, and Ventilation: Frequently touched surfaces need to be cleaned at least daily, as well as shared objects between each use. Ventilation should be working and airflow is encouraged.

  • Avoid Close Contact (Social Distancing): Can include physical barrier installation (e.g. partitions) and changing workspace configurations so that everyone can stay at least six feet apart. Communal spaces should also remain closed if possible, or at least cleaned and disinfected between uses. Additionally, remote work should be encouraged for as many employees as possible.

  • Limit Travel: Cancel or reschedule all non-essential travel and resume only in accordance with regulations and guidelines provided by State and local authorities. If employees use public transit to reach the office, encourage them to continue teleworking to prevent community contact and spread.

For a full list of best practices, go to

Source: Bernie Portal

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