Some of SOM’s clients are installing plexiglass dividers between desks, which has been recommended by OSHA for all work environments, particularly in retail and manufacturing.
Many employers are also peppering their businesses with signage, said Ms. Brink, whether it’s a reminder for employees to wash their hands, wear masks or limit occupancy in common areas. The goal is to clearly communicate, and enforce, safety precautions that may put employees at ease.
You may not notice invisible changes, like improvements made to the space’s air quality. “There are advanced cleaning technologies somebody can put in that require a specialist,” said Joseph Gardner Allen, the deputy director of the Harvard Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health.
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Enforcing social distancing and the use of face coverings in the workplace are the most critical safety measures, Dr. El-Sadr said, but you may encounter other precautions, too. For example, your employer may be staggering employees’ return dates. If so, you could find out who goes first: those deemed most essential or those whovolunteer? Will shifts be staggered throughout the week to reduce density in the office, or throughout the day, so employees relying on mass transit can avoid commuting during rush hour?
The C.D.C. suggests employees fill out daily health surveys and disclose whether they have Covid-19 symptoms before coming into work. But that comes with limitations. “You have some people who may minimize the symptoms, and you have some people who might exaggerate the symptoms,” Dr. El-Sadr said. But she has found that “most people will be quite honest.”
Employers may also implement daily temperature screenings. Related Companies — the main developer behind the Hudson Yards complex in New York City — has installed infrared cameras in the lobbies of several large office buildings in the city that signal when a person’s temperature is over 100 degrees, said Philippe Visser, Related’s president of office development. Some companies are putting technology in their employees’ hands: The staff returning to work at Rudin Management’s New York office has been checking symptoms using an app from a company called TrueCare24, said Samantha Rudin, the firm’s senior vice president.
While not all people who test positive for the coronavirus have a fever, if an employee is feeling feverish and knows her temperature will be checked before going into the office, she may be more inclined to stay home, Dr. Allen said.