How to Prepare for Your Return to the Office

By Sara Aridi
New York Times

Nervous about the possibility of going back to the workplace?
Here's what to take into consideration.

Since the coronavirus hit the United States in the spring, about 35 percent of American workers have switched to telecommuting, according to a recent survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research. And with the end of summer fast approaching, you may be wondering about your return to the office — should you return at all.

Or even if you continued to go into work, you might feel uneasy about the rising number of cases across the country and the prospect that you or your colleagues may contribute to the spread of the virus.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, has suggested that employers develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, as well as implement basic preventive measures, like promoting frequent hand-washing and telling employees to stay home if they are sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a list of best practices, such as identifying how employees could be exposed to the coronavirus at work and encouraging them to wear face coverings.

Still, employers may not enforce safety precautions because OSHA's recommendations are not mandatory, said Merrick Rossein, a professor at CUNY School of Law. "The biggest problem and complaint from lots of advocacy groups is that there's very little teeth," he said.

Virginia took the matter into its own hands last month, becoming the first state to mandate workplace safety rules in response to the pandemic.

In any case, "there's no way you can just completely eliminate the risk, but what you have to do is minimize the risk," said Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University. "It will require everybody doing their bit."

Here are some tips and things to take into consideration as you figure out your return to the office ...

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