how are you staying safe if you’re returning to work (or have been there all along)?

With many people gearing up to return to their workplaces — and many people who never left — let’s talk about how to stay safe. What is your office doing to protect you and your coworkers? What are you doing yourself? What suggestions do you have for others?

To start us off, a commenter shared this:

Doctors in my state don’t seem to be willing to write documentation for the immunocompromised to do telework, and my state is being really lax about business, what’s essential, and opening up really quickly. However, what I was able to fight them on was in regards to getting the guidelines around social distancing in practice. I looked up my County’s back to business plan and what the requirements were, and my state’s guidelines for dealing with outbreaks in the workplace, etc., and I got them to segregate different areas to avoid cross contamination, bring in someone to clean regularly, separate work stations with plexiglass where there wasn’t room for 6′ distance (it’s a completely open office, no dividers), and encourage masks, by sending documentation of where these were the minimum requirements of the county, state and city. So if you can’t stay out of the workplace, you can possibly get them to make the workplace safer. Alternatively, if it would be extremely difficult for them to do that, maybe it would make them more amenable to continuing telework.

And another commenter shared these tips:

I faced this dilemma a few weeks ago, and I was forced to come back. For me, I don’t have an immunocompromised family member but I do have massive (diagnosed) anxiety about illness and WFH was super helpful for me in controlling that. This is what has helped me at work:

1) Create a base. For me it’s my office, which I know I’m lucky to have. For you it could be your office, or cube, or desk. If they were hotdesking definitely fight to get a permanent desk. Don’t let anyone into your space. Put down tape if you have to. Get a small mirror if you have your back to the entrance so you can see people approaching. When someone seems like they are going to enter the base, ask them to stay be back and go get their mask they aren’t wearing it. Don’t worry about seeming rude, you need to protect yourself. Fight to get wipes so you can can clean your space in the morning or when you leave and you can’t be sure someone else didn’t enter.

2) When you have to leave your space wear a mask at all times. Try not to let people pull you into conversations in areas where it’s hard to distance, ask them to move to a more open area or better yet call or email you instead. Ask them to wear a mask if they aren’t.

3) Fight in person meetings as hard as you can. Ask if it can be done via zoom or phone. If you absolutely can’t get out of it, fight to have the meeting in the biggest room you can and try to find a place in the room where you can get the most space. Ideally, you’d be able to avoid meetings though.

But I think the number one thing is not to let your perimeter be compromised out of fear of rudeness. I’ve let people talk to me without masks early on and had to deal with the anxiety the rest of the day. Hold firm! Hopefully they’ll let you keep working from home, but if not I hope this helps a little.

What else are you doing to stay safe if you’re back to your workplace? Let’s discuss in the comments.

{ 257 comments… read them below }

    1. foolofgrace*

      State government worker from another state — masks are not optional. We must wear masks at all times. Visitors to our office must wear masks and, optionally, gloves, both of which we set out for them at the entrance. And they must observe social distancing, we have tape on the floor.

    2. NoNameToday*

      State government – health department, no less. Lots of information on our website as well. I think the one supplied here is very user-friendly compared with ours. I encourage everyone to communicate with their state officials about their concerns. I know our website has a feedback option.

  1. Miki*

    Librarian here (academic library)
    We just started back this week.
    2 options: work from home full time or work half a day onsite (in two shifts) and then rest work from home.
    Given 2 flimsy grey colored masks (t-shirt material) to use and wash and home. Bathrooms and sanitizers available, as are water fountains. Since we’re at work only 3.75 hrs no breaks, no food allowed inside.

    1. Miki*

      Also: spaced out, some that work in department moved to other department to have at least 6 ft of space (currently 5 /20 in dept for shift 1)

    2. Show Me the Money*

      100% cotton tshirt material masks with three layers have a high filtration rate. Glasses don’t fog up either.

      1. Miki*

        Yeah, but this is a single layer, not triple (basically is a cut out rectangle with ear loops attached to it ). And I highly doubt this is cotton at all.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      Another librarian here.
      We are back for 40 hours but no patrons yet – which makes me very happy. We are providing curbside service that is contactless.

      Our library is supplying disposable masks and face shields. To protect myself I am wearing my own cloth masks that I can wash and the work face shield. I wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when I cannot.

      When we have patrons back in the building, it is not 100% clear if we will require them to wear masks. If not, I am not sure what staff can do to protect themselves.

      We have some good policies for employees but we sent only one email, supervisors are not making sure staff know or follow them, and staff don’t seem to know them or follow them.

      For example, no eating except in the break room, one person at a time. One woman shared with me that she is worried people are not following our mask policy (wear one at all times). I agreed and told her about someone in her dept who was eating in their dept area. She was very surprised that was the rule and said she has been eating at her desk in the open workroom (not even cubicle walls).

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Not eating except in the break room? I would feel more comfortable eating in my own private area rather than in the communal lunch room that you don’t know when it was cleaned or how well it was cleaned.

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          I’m on the committee creating the plan for my workplace (community college library) and we’re structuring shifts so people don’t have to eat. 4 hours. They still can, but we’re intentionally scheduling so that meals can be eaten at home. The entire college has a detailed meal policy including break room expectations and if you eat out, no leftovers brought back on campus.

      2. fuzzfrogs*

        Another librarian–similar situation, although they just added card renewals to our list of curbside services, which is semi-contact (patron puts card in a tray, we take the tray inside to renew their card).

        We’re required to eat in our teen space–actually not allowed to eat in our lounge, so others can move in/out of it. We have 28 employees at this branch, though; smaller branches are i think still using their break rooms.

        Desks were re-arranged to have at least 6 feet of social distancing at all times, which we are expected to maintain with other staff. We must have masks on at all times; medical masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and clorox wipes are provided, but we’re only allowed to use gloves when handling new returns.

        things have fortunately been communicated pretty thoroughly, but we’re in the middle of a state that’s been re-opened for a whole month while our county has fought for the right to tighter restrictions. there’s a lot of confusion and anger. Things are also clarified day by day.

      3. nervousyolk*

        Librarian as well but for a public library.

        We’ve been required to go in for shifts to work phone/email reference for half a day and work in our office for the second half and telecommuting on some days. We’re supposed to clean and disinfect our assigned station before each shift and lunch break. Thankfully, no patrons in the library yet, but a few have tried to force their way in when they see that there are people in the building. We’re also offering curbside pick up.

        Our library is supplying disposable masks and face shields, but staff aren’t super dedicated to keeping their masks on and no one uses the face shields. Not everyone is committed to social distancing either unfortunately. Some of the staff that are parents have had to bring their kids into work and the kids don’t wear masks at all.

        I have asthma and autoimmune issues so I’m high risk for covid, so it’s been concerning and stressful to say the least having to go back to work.

  2. Escaped a Work Cult*

    We’re currently spaced out and socially distant in the office but only at 50% capacity (4 people in the office). We wear masks when we need close collaboration and wash hands a lot. We also wipe down all surfaces before we leave for the day.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      We do this too – if we have to be there.
      1. If we were to all come back, we would re-arrange desks to keep me (someone who works a 2nd job in a public-facing essential worker role) away from my former cube neighbor (an elderly woman with significant cardiopulmonary health issues).
      2. We have to tell the office management if we are coming in so that they can structure it in a way that we are 6 feet apart and not have a cluster of people with adjacent cubes together
      3. Hand sanitizer stations next to doors that have to be opened by touching handles
      4. Taping off chairs or removing them altogether so that you have to sit in conference rooms spaced out.
      5. Reducing training session and meeting sizes but putting them in larger conference rooms
      6. Partial work remote for people who have to come into the office
      7. Flexibility around office hours so that people have more commuting options besides public transportation
      This is all on top of the fact that we have had the option to stay home through September. I work for the state department that has a governor who is doing a great job reducing our covid spread and still keeping businesses open.

        1. JustaTech*

          At my work it’s “mask at all times unless you are alone in your own office”. So masks in labs, hallways, common areas, bathrooms and at your cube. Which makes it pretty much impossible to eat (because the one lunch room big enough to stay apart is under construction), so I’ve been limiting my on-site time to half-days after lunch.

    2. Carlie*

      This is a very small thing, but if homemade masks are allowed, I have been mainly using ones that I have a single cord through. Instead of ear loops on the side, it has channels to run a cord through. Then I take something like a shoelace (at least 45 inches long) and thread it through the bottoms up through the tops. The end effect is that I can hang it around my neck and let it dangle when I don’t need it, and quickly draw it up over my face and tie behind my head when I need it. Makes the “where’s my mask?” question not a thing to worry about, so might make it a bit easier. It’s hard to describe, but easy to see – if you go to this link: and scroll down to “different ways to wear the face mask”, right under that the green mask with yellow cord is set up that way.

      1. JustaTech*

        You can also do that tying method with the masks that have two pairs of ties that tie behind your head. That’s how I wear my mask when I run.

    3. Taniwha Girl*

      We do this too. Less than 50% of people in the office, most working from home. If there are too many people from the same team in on the same day, we spread out at different seats. We have cardboard-and-plastic barriers between the desks in our open office where people sit across from others, share tables, etc. Every other chair in meeting rooms is marked off with a sign that says “Don’t sit here, corona prevention” etc. We try to keep the doors open in meeting rooms too especially if lots of people are in there (which is and should be rare).

      Also temperature taking (using a forehead reader) upon arrival at work, sanitizer and wipes at every station, and everyone is wearing masks. I believe things are frequently wiped down but I make sure to wipe my stuff down daily.

  3. Anon Anon*

    My employer has generally been good. One of the things they did was sent out a survey for all employee’s to complete (everyone is still primarily WAH), and several of us compared our answers. There are some common concerns, and we thought that we would be more likely to get those concerned adequately addressed if multiple people expressed the same concern. And it was a strategy that worked well. While it hasn’t been announced, I am fairly sure that that WAH will be permitted for several more months and potentially until there is a vaccine or treatment.

  4. Bob*

    I recall seeing a news photo of someone who created a covid costume with broom handles on all four sides that looked like Dalek arms attached to their jacket. Pretend you have this costume on, or if you are already considered eccentric then use some broom handles and plungers to build yourself one.
    More serious advice, think of 6ft as two arm lengths (yours and the person you are talking to), carry some extra masks if you have some extras, wear your own of course, and refuse to get into any discussions about why or covid denial. It is socially acceptable to protect yourself so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  5. Amethystmoon*

    I’m technically an essential worker, but in an office. I’ve been limiting my days to no more than 2 a week, and on those days, I’m only there to print and drop off files, so am physically there no more than half the day. We only have 4-5 people in the office max at any given time. Also, I wear my mask in public spaces as our updated guidelines have told us to, and social distance otherwise. I never touch things like printers with my bare hands (I use my little rubber paper sorter fingertip thingy or a pencil eraser) and wash my hands a lot when I am there. We have cubicles, which makes the social distancing easier.

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    My office has been handling things very well from what I’ve seen. They sent home as many people as possible, though there were some positions that could not be done remote. They spread out those folks to make sure there was extra space between them. Masks are required everywhere other than your own cube/office.

    I’ve been at home, but am in regular contact with a couple people who have been in the office the whole time. The past couple of weeks, more people have slowly been returning, but they are still encouraging everyone who can to stay at home.

    They gave out masks and have always had numerous hand sanitizer stations around.

  7. SugarFree*

    We started back in the office this week. Staff split into two teams which work alternating days (M/W/F or T/TH). Masks are required when you leave your work area. Unfortunately, my cube is in a high traffic area near the restrooms/breakroom and I’ve noticed that the ‘masks in public areas’ doesn’t seem to be enforced. From the top down I see people walk by without a mask and later see the same person wearing a mask. It’s hit or miss and I find it very frustrating!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Same thing happened at my mom’s company. In fact, on the day my mom was in the office for a few hours to do some tasks she can’t do from home, she overheard someone on her phone saying that the company’s policy of making mask wearing mandatory was stupid and she didn’t have to wear one if she didn’t want to. This person did not in fact have on a mask, but there weren’t many people in the office at that point (my mom was wearing her mask as were the people who sit around her). This upset my mom a lot because she has diabetes, so COVID could be deadly for her if she catches it. I told her the most she can do is to report this stuff to HR when she sees the non-compliance and hope that the bigwigs enforce it.

      I’m sorry you guys have to deal with this.

      1. Show Me the Money*

        I hate people that won’t wear masks. They understand nothing about respiratory transmission and care nothing about other people.These kinds of folks will only believe covid-19 is a true risk when they become infected or someone they love does. AARGH.

      2. SugarFree*

        I live with my elderly parents, one has diabetes and the other dementia so it would be pretty catastrophic if they caught covid 19. My boss is one of the ‘offenders’ and combined with their lack of managerial abilities I don’t feel comfortable bringing it up to them. HR is a joke not to mention out of state, but they do have an anonymous hotline we can report workplace concerns to. There is one manager of another department that I am considering talking to. He is the one who communicated the return to the office plan so I feel like he might be a good ally – plus I always see him in a mask!

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      Tell someone. Email whoever sent out the directives to say they are not being followed and that you think more reminders/enforcement are needed.

    3. nellie*

      My workplace has the same rules, and the same frustration. I’m still (thankfully) largely WFH, but I went in a couple of weeks ago for something and almost everyone’s masks were up and down all day in the common areas.

      The requirement to wear a mask seems to be interpreted as “hang a mask vaguely around your chin and pull it up to your mouth for a few minutes if you’re worried about getting in trouble.” I am supportive of a mask requirement, but I don’t see how it’s going to work if most people think that’s what “wearing a mask” means.

      1. Above Aurorae*

        I am becoming more and more conviced that people think masks are like the invisibility hats the Weasley twins invented in Harry Potter, the ones that make your whole head invisible, beyond the hat area. Like, if you have a mask anywhere on your person, you have a magical force field all around you, even if not one bit of nose and mouth are covered.

        Sadly, Harry Potter is not a work of non-fiction and magical masks are not available for sale nor DIY projects.

        I think we need to change the message from “masks are required” to “mouth and nose must be covered by a mask” because, while some people are doing these things purposefully wrong, I think (hope?) the majority of people have just never worn masks and don’t get it – and explicit language would be much better than being vague or making obvious loopholes, like having a mask around your neck is technically complying with “wear a mask” but ultimately pointless.

        I’d never worn a mask before and my carpenter bf had to teach me how to wear a few different kinds correctly (he wears a few kinds of PPE for work depending on task and has training in it) and without having to readjust it and, thus, touch it while out. It also helps if you gradually increase wear times to adjust, for those returning to work, it might be smart to train yourself at home like you might break in new shoes at home. I have heard this advice from no one but my bf, just “wear a mask” with no further instruction.

        I’m a tech geek who lives on a laptop, why would I know anything about how to wear a mask? I am much more the norm than someone like my bf. If I was part of planning to bring people back, I’d be sending everyone resources in advance on HOW to wear a mask, properly disinfect their areas, etc. – because it is worth assuming total ignorance here. This isn’t stuff we are just generally taught in life, look at how many people didn’t even know how to waah their hands when this started ramping…

  8. beem*

    Of my 13-person (across 4 companies) office space:
    +6 people are WFH
    +6 people decided to stay in the office
    +I was WFH until a flood forced me to go back to the office

    When I went back, I found that no one was wearing a mask, there was no handsoap or paper towels in the kitchen, no disinfectant, and no other preventative measures in place. Since I share an office with my boss, I’m unable to keep 6 feet away from him.

    I’m wearing a mask and washing my hands after touching my mask or anything that isn’t mine. I set up a drop-off box so our clients don’t have to enter our office room. I ordered soap, paper towels, and disinfectant spray.

    My boss has been lukewarm. He tells me to order whatever I want but he has no interest in taking the lead on keeping us safe. No guidance from him at all.

    1. Lynn*

      Ooof. That hurts to hear. Glad you are taking this seriously even if others are not, and at least your boss isn’t actively opposing these measures? (the bar is low) Sorry about your flood also!

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      This is terrible, but I guess you really can’t control what other people do. Can you get your company to reimburse you for the cost of these items since they’re the ones who should be providing them in the first place?

      1. beem*

        Taken care of! I ordered the supplies through our company’s account so I didn’t pay for them.

    3. Show Me the Money*

      You already know your boss is an idiot. Are there any enforceable OSHA rules about this now (US only)? A workplace is downright unsafe without covid-19 protections in place.

    4. Gamer Girl*

      Since your boss is not engaged in preventative measures, it seems like it’s on you to create some sort of disinfected fortress… Is it possible for you to order some plexiglass to create some safer, disinfectable separation? Could you grab an old cube wall and install it temporarily while you wait? (If you can–you have to still respect fire codes, of course).

      1. beem*

        Unfortunately not – there’s not enough space in my office room. I’m hoping I can move into a different one or go back to WFH, even though I’m terrible at it >.< We'll see!

  9. Aurora Leigh*

    I’m really lucky to be in a state (IL) that has been taking this seriously from the start. We reopened the office June 1st. Masks at all times unless you are in your cubicle/office or eating in the lunchroom. 6ft distance — parking lot meetings. Only one person at a time in restrooms. Hand sanitizer and wipes provided. This is all state requirements, but they did also say that if anyone refuses to wear a mask they’ll be sent home.

    1. Moonlight Elantra*

      Same. I’m not often proud to say I live in Illinois, but the government’s hard stance on staying at home (and now our plummeting infection rates) has really made me glad to live here.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Co-signed. I was not super excited to vote for him (though WAY more excited about him than the other guy), but I am very happy about how he is handling this. Now, if people would just stop SUING him to try and get him to drop restrictions like number of people allowed to gather….

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yep, also in Illinois, and though Pritzker was not my choice in the primary he has turned out to be the best governor we’ve had in at least 20 years (this is sadly a very low bar to clear).

          To loop this back around to relevant, my office is reopening July 6, but only with people who really need to be there – think photography studio, test kitchen, that sort of thing. Those folks will have staggered/rotating schedules so people can appropriately distance and often have their space to themselves.

          We’re having mandatory meetings starting today (I’m “attending” one on Monday) to learn more about what will be required of us and what the company will be doing.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I feel like I should note, too, there was one confirmed COVID case in my office and two at our warehouses (we have two separate facilities, one case in each) and as far as I know nobody else has gotten it from those folks so that tells me it’s being taken pretty seriously. (The person who works in my office had not been IN the office in 3 weeks when they were diagnosed, so they didn’t catch or spread it there. The warehouses were both shut down and deep-cleaned after the workers there were diagnosed.)

          2. Moonlight Elantra*

            I work in downtown Chicago and our office has decided to partially reopen on July 1, with staggered schedules, distancing, and required masks. We’ve transitioned to WFH pretty smoothly so I’m hoping they’ll just let people continue to telecommute if they want.

            Regarding people suing the state to let them reopen: I live in an outer-ring suburb near Joliet and it kills me how many people here seem to think the virus is only a problem in Chicago. If that were true, there would be no traffic going into the city every weekday morning and no reason for the Metra to exist. I’d like to invite them to my train station in the morning and count how many people from their bedroom community commute to the Loop every day.

    2. No Longer Looking*

      Pretty much the same. We re0pen in January with 50/50 staggered schedules, with intentions to return fully to the office in August (big asterisk on intentions, I suspect). We have wipes and sanitizer available, and have hung plexi in front of the reception desk, along with a couple other cubes where it felt necessary. We removed half of the chairs from the conference room, and all of the chairs from the break room. The drinking fountain in the hall and the water cooler in the break room are off-limits for now. Masks are required unless you are at your desk.

    3. Citrouille*

      I’m in Illinois too. The hill my company has chosen to die on is that the state recommends you wear a mask when within 6 feet of others, so they aren’t requiring it when you’re further away. 6 feet is not magic, folks! Not that management is enforcing the masks within 6 feet, either.

      Fortunately I have my own private office space, so I head straight in there in the morning and don’t come out until the end of the day.

        1. Citrouille*

          Okay, I do come out probably once a day to use the bathroom, though I wish I didn’t have to.

    4. Eva Luna*

      I’m in IL, too. I am not working right now (which is a whole other story), and my husband has been WFH since March. (His job can be done just fine remotely.) His office is partially reopening July 1st, but they have not thought out anything at all in terms of actual logistics. (For example, employees were informed that they would not be able to use the water cooler, and use of fridge and microwave were strongly discouraged. When everyone asked what they were supposed to do about food and drinking water, answers were not forthcoming. I have a preexisting respiratory condition which would make me more likely to get seriously ill if infected with COVID, so my husband asked to continue WFH as much as possible (for example, unless he needs materials from he office that don’t exist electronically). We are now jumping through ADA accommodation hoops, even though the ADA doesn’t apply because he, the employee, isn’t the one with the medical issue. Here’s hoping the letter en route from my doc is all it takes to get them to do the right thing. It’s really kind of ridiculous because his job/employer are in no way essential, and IL state guidelines are still that telework is strongly encouraged. Absolutely no advantage is gained by having everyone physically in the office – all it accomplishes is likely getting more people infected, and I suspect that the minute someone gets sick, they will all be WFH again.

  10. CastIrony*

    I am a cashier and cafeteria worker, the latter which is unstable for now.

    After wearing my cloth mask and sanitizing my dry hands after every time I check out customers, I shower and get clean clothes as soon as I get home from my job as a cashier.

    Why? Because at my cafeteria job, we are serving a group of 80 people that live together (a reform military-led academy), and if I just wore my dirty clothes, I could contaminate them, and because they all live together, one case could spread throughout the whole group like wildfire.

      1. CastIrony*

        It is, but I don’t want to find out I’m responsible for making 80 people sick.

  11. Peppercat53*

    My employer sent everyone who could work from home to do so. I work in a production area so was not able to do that myself. We all got split onto colored teams at the beginning and our door access, etc was restricted so essentially quarantined from other teams at the workplace. We have drop off zones if someone needs to get something to someone on another team. We wipe down surfaces regularly (wipes are company provided), more so in areas that interact with the public. Employees that interact with the public have to wear a mask (company provided 2 to everyone who couldn’t make or get one for themselves). Now, if we want to go into another team’s area we have to wear a mask and are supposed to distance and spend as little time in the other area as possible. I still don’t go into other team’s areas as a personal choice. They are bringing back the work from home people to work on-site 1-2 days a week now but they still are assigned a team and have restricted access. Everyone does a temperature check when they start their shift (after they have clocked in), if they don’t pass the temp check they are supposed to clock out and go home and follow company procedures.

  12. Anonymity is overrated*

    Essential Medical Office worker. We’ve been here the whole time with masks and extra hand hygiene. Pretty much the only difference for us has been having a temp taken at the door. It’s pretty hard to do our jobs further than 6 ft from people. We give any patients not wearing a mask one for in the clinic. Family members are asked to be one the phone for appointments with the doctor and only patients inside for treatment appointments. Seems to be working well. Our county has been lucky that people are taking this seriously and we’ve had a super low case count even with increased testing and being one of the first counties in the state to fully reopen businesses.

  13. HR in the city*

    I work for local government and they have put up plexi glass barriers, put up hand sanitizer, measured and moved around offices and conference rooms for social distancing requirements, set-up health check stations, and encouraging us to wear masks. They have also been slow to open up all of the buildings. The building I work in isn’t open to the public yet (rumor is July 1st) and we have been doing appointments only for visits to our office. I share an office with a coworker and we are 9 ft apart but my boss is fine with us alternating days. I have also been pushing to work from home as much as I can because I have diabetes. So far my boss has been receptive to working from home so I am going to do is as long as I can.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Your boss is very reasonable. My mom brought up her diabetes to her management team, and they’re still making her come back into the office all week beginning next week. One of her friends also works there and is in her mid-60s with an immunocompromised spouse, and when she went to HR asking for permission to WFH full time until a vaccine is here (she doesn’t need to be in the office to do her tasks), she was told by their HR rep that she’s at no greater risk of catching COVID than anyone else and, thus, won’t be getting any special treatment.

      It’s maddening.

      1. Show Me the Money*

        Time to formally request and fight for a reasonable accomodation. The facts are on your mom’s side. I guess HR doesn’t watch the news.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Oh, they watch the news – they just don’t care. These are the same people who purchased a battered women’s shelter and kicked out all of the occupants, along with their children, so they could turn the building into overpriced condos. I’m not at all surprised by their callousness in the age of COVID.

  14. I Am a Patient Girl*

    My Team hosts New Hire Orientation for a large manufacturer across several sites. All non-essentials workers are WFH and everyone who needs to be at the site has seen huge changes on the floor – masks, obviously, but also lots and lots of plexiglass dividers added and changes to room capacities, unfortunately the removal of free snacks, etc.

    We used to have large classes (up to a couple hundred people) for new hires every Monday and have moved 90% of the first day experience to a virtual experience. It’s definitely less warm and engaging, and we’ve had to drop a lot of content. (a full 8 hour first day with activities and in-person engagement does NOT translate to an 8 hour zoom call. We left a lot of fluff and mostly go over the important stuff – a little of the mission and culture, and then how to access pay and benefits and what resources they should use for different needs) And then in the afternoon they come in during ‘office hours’ to do all the needs-to-be-in-person stuff – taking a badge photo, submitting I-9 documents, getting IT help if they are having trouble with the company issued credentials.
    The process isn’t perfect and it’s definitely not as warm and welcoming as the world-class onboarding experience we had previously been designing, but we have gotten lots of accolades for a very quick pivot, since safety obviously trumps some of the more feel-good excitement building that we were working on in a larger group setting. Even if it’s a better experience, we just can’t justify having a large group of people coming in to sit in a room all together. It’s just reckless and we need people to know that we take their safety seriously and that when they are on the work floor, we will continue to take their concerns about their safety seriously.

    I personally have been working from home all week except for those office hours – I come in one afternoon a week and then am off-site the rest of the time, which is pretty sad as I am a suuuuuuper social person and love seeing everyone all the time.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      Frankly, I think modeling a safe, sanitary workplace is the most welcoming thing you could do for new employees right now. I would feel much more welcomed by that than the usual onboarding processes right now.

  15. Cat*

    What is my company doing? “We have the cleaning service coming in every night.”
    (Okay, great, you mean the same cleaning service that just empties the trash cans and wipes down the bathroom?)

    What I’m doing? Refusing to go in for as long as humanly possible.
    (I am fortunate that I was mostly WFH prior to Covid so my stance is not as belligerent as it sounds.)

    I’m in an area where most people think the virus is fake; I found out last week that the office has been open THIS ENITRE TIME and a handful of people never stopped going in because they wanted to be in the office, and the boss officially reopened the office ahead of state guidance because he was bored and wanted to see people. Half of our employees hot-desk it and if even part of the outside sales team tries to work from the office while the permanent office staff is there, we literally don’t have enough desks for everyone.

    The nightly cleaning is literally the only precaution they’re taking at thing point. For whatever reason, people are really hung up on the “sanitizing of surfaces” even though that one of the least likely forms of transmission. No plans to coordinate schedules to stagger in-office staff. The kitchen can’t readily be closed because it’s a passthrough area between the north and south halves of the building. No openable windows, office layout is railroad with mid-size offices branching off and holding 3-6 people each. In short, it’s a recipe for disaster.

    I can’t image a scenario in which my on-site presence would be a legitimate need but in that event, I’d arrive immediately prior to the meeting and leave immediately after. If necessary I’d sit in my car in the parking lot (close enough to pick up the wifi), which should be delightful in the height of summer. And I’d wear a mask the entire time inside the building.

    1. Show Me the Money*

      Anti-vaxxers, virus is fake…what is it with these delusional people? Where are their facts? Sure, the whole world closes for something that is fake, doesn’t even make basic common sense. Sometimes I really hate people.

      1. Cat*

        No one in their immediate circle is (knowingly) sick therefore it doesn’t exist in their reality, those are the only facts they need.

        And my knowledge of my coworkers’ behavior *outside* of the office is another reason I’m adamant about not coming in. They’ve been having parties and gathering, their kids are back in daycare, going to salons and gyms. It makes you start to question your own sanity but them you see restaurants and gyms in the area that just opened this Monday (yeah, like THREE DAYS AGO) and are already closing because of breakouts and realize that you are, in fact, the rational one.

    2. Gamer Girl*

      OMG, I’m so sorry. I really am. Is it worth trying to find a different job with a more reasonable company? I’m guessing that’s probably not easy in your area…

    3. CastIrony*

      Your office reminds me of my town. Since we haven’t had a case in over two months, most people don’t wear masks. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

      I wish people took this more seriously. I personally am choosing to just do my essential working stuff, maybe go to gorcery stores, and then stay home. The hey I’ll sit in a restaurant!

  16. arcya*

    We never technically shut down at all (classed as an essential business). During most of the main shutdown in my state they asked anyone who didn’t need to be onsite to work from home, but this was optional. Our internal policy was “wear a mask if you have to be within 6 feet of someone else”, but tbh it was mostly optional. Like I *never* saw any executives wearing a mask. Actually I did see my grandboss wearing one but the other execs made fun of him and he took it off.

    I need to be onsite for my work, so things never really changed for me personally. Me and everyone I interact with at work have been coming in like normal. Actually all the essential on-site staff have been more productive than usual, which is a problem because we’re using more supplies.

    Now that more of the people working from home are coming back, they gave us all company branded masks and hand sanitizer. I’m seeing more adherence to the mask thing, but again there’s not actual enforcement.

    I’m also seeing more kids in the office. Our company is usually quite flexible about that kind of thing, and I think some people just don’t have childcare, so I get it. The kids are being pretty well-behaved so far!

      1. arcya*

        If it helps, everyone involved has a PhD in some biomedical related field. Wait that probably doesn’t help sorry.

        We had some publicity photos sent out, one of which showed the CEO wearing a mask with his favorite sports team on it. I thought it was pretty funny because I have literally never seen that dude wear a mask, and I saw him in someone else’s office having a meeting yesterday.

          1. arcya*

            No, but I know a lot of people there. After their superspreader event early in the pandemic they have some intense onsite precautions. It’d be nice if my company could take a cue from them!

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      ” the other execs made fun of him and he took it off.”

      Genius. #maga #covfefe

      1. arcya*

        Obviously I don’t know exactly how the exec team votes but I’m pretty confident they all hate the president so there’s that at least!

    2. arcya*

      ALSO! I just remembered haha, I got a bonus for coming in every day when WFH was an option! Everyone I knew got a bonus, because we were all coming in. The bonus check was given to me in-person by a VP. He was not wearing a mask lmao

  17. HR Lady*

    I’m in the UK and my partner has recently returned to their office as their workplace is ‘encouraging’ people back to the office. We live in London where the vast majority of people who work in central London have to take public transport – except Transport for London is asking people not to take essential journeys!

    This doesn’t work for everyone but if you are in London there have been some significant improvements to the cycling infrastructure, so for the first time my partner is cycling in to work, they have been pleasantly surprised by the widening of cycle lanes etc.

    They have also got their office to put in flexible start and finish times so that they and other employees in the office can get in to work/leave work outside of the rush hour (or in my partner’s case, with reference to the weather forecast). Not perfect but means they aren’t travelling in a packed Tube and have helped to make life a bit easier for those who have no choice but to take the train/Tube/bus.

    I am aware this doesn’t apply to a lot of workers in different cities – and to be honest we’re lucky in that we live in Zone 3 – but knowing that they’re not out in a crush of people has helped my partner and me with our fears about big groups in enclosed spaces.

    1. HR Lady*

      Argh, typo, Transport for London is asking people not to take non-essential journeys! They’re still running a service for essential journeys *facepalm*

      1. HR Lady*

        A few cities in the UK have really jumped to it I believe – London specifically has widened cycle lanes, created new ones, diverted traffic and have also widened pavements to give pedestrians more space. A lot of these things were in the works anyway but it’s absolutely leapt up the agenda.

    2. TC*

      I’m a non-driver who who lives in a large city and relies on public transportation. Even if I did drive, it would be kind of like London in that who the hell is going to/can even drive everywhere, you are sure not driving into downtown and parking. Or maybe you can cycle but what if you need to go miles away and can’t reasonably ride that far? I can’t ride a bike well enough to feel safe on city streets anyway (and it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalks, not that I’d probably feel comfortable doing that anyway) so that’s out. I WFH so I’m fortunate on the work front, but I’m honestly kind of terrified of what happens when I actually start making the move to do… anything. Go to the doctor. Go anywhere. Whatever. And I feel like this is a REALLY under-discussed issue for many of us.

      Ugh didn’t mean to threadjack. Glad to hear your partner is going to have cycling as an option in London!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, I’m putting off some much needed dental exams because I don’t feel comfortable taking public transportation anywhere (another non-driver here who relies on rideshares).

        1. TC*

          Same! Cases are going down in my state but we’re being very cautious. And an hour on the train to get downtown for the doctor and dentist appointments I needed… nope, not right now. When ever, I have no idea.

      2. HR Lady*

        My partner is good to get back to work – if my work says I have to go back I’m scuppered, because although I can drive I don’t own a car (and central London is designed to keep drivers out these days!), I’m not a cyclist and I’m deeply uneasy about going on public transport.

        A lot of the things I need to do can all be done within walking distance (doctor, supermarket, etc) and I’m in the incredibly fortunate position, for London, of being near a big open green space and some marshland but I’m starting to feel a bit claustrophobic! Incredibly glad that my partner can get out (and I am making them bring back things from central London for me, ha!) but if I had to go to work, a hospital, etc, I’m looking at a two hour walk. Eeek.

  18. Falcon*

    My office reopened at 25% capacity beginning of the month. I’m still working from home, but the people who wanted to return were divided in 2 groups, half work Monday/Tuesday, the other half Weds/Thurs. The office is cleaned every night. Each week, every worker is given a small kit containing 2 masks (1/day), hand sanitizer, and an ear saver. Seating assignments have been changed so no one is right next to another person in their group, and it’s still fine to stay home on your assigned day if you prefer. We’re just starting to talk about planning the next phase of the return, but I’ll likely stay home as long as possible, as my spouse is high-risk, and I’ve faced zero pressure about this. About half of my team is high risk or has someone at home, it’s been a very open and supportive environment from both co-workers and management.

      1. LPUK*

        I think it’s a little gadget that you can hook the elastic on face masks round that means it fastens round the back of your head so you don’t have to have tight elastic round your ears all day. Some college design depts are 3-d printing them, but I’ve also seen knitted strips with buttons ( someone made then for local NHS)

  19. cncx*

    i live in a country in Europe which has basically opened up but my company has been really good about wfh and only a fifth of us are back in the office, and i chose to come in by choice. Today we were five on my floor. My biggest issue isn’t my coworkers or the office at all- we’re all keeping our distance and following basic hygiene, but rather the way people act in stores and public transport. My employer has also been extremely explicit about office presence being voluntary, and i know my coworkers appreciate it.

    Masks are only recommended in buses and trains here, so no one is wearing them even though we had a spike in our region this week. Then in stores there seem to be this contingent of people bent on shaming mask wearers or just being rude, kind of like in the US. If you wear a mask in the bus you get side eye. The other day i was in a shop waiting in line to pay and a girl was in touching distance and talking so i asked her politely to back up (there were stickers on the floor) and she fake coughed on me before she backed up with an insincere “sorry.” It’s annoying. Now that there is a spike in nearby cases i’m probably going to wfh next week since strangers in public think the rona is done and people want to be rude about it.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      she fake coughed on me before she backed up with an insincere “sorry.”

      People are now being arrested for this and charged with assault here in the U.S. I will never understand what goes through someone’s mind to do something that disgusting considering they could be an asymptomatic carrier and could literally kill someone with this virus. It’s disgusting.

  20. Fancy Owl*

    Oh wow, my comment got featured in a post (the second one)! *muffled fangirl screaming* If my advice seems a bit intense, I commented on the post about someone who was concerned about her immunocompromised family member. If you don’t have anxiety and are unlikely to interact with immunocompromised people you probably don’t have to be as intense about it. Although, please wear your mask if you are at all able to for the sake of other people. I know they’re uncomfortable, I have issues with nausea and gagging myself when I wear them but they really are the best thing to keep us all safe. If you absolutely can’t wear one, at least try to avoid putting people in situations where they have to talk to you maskless in an enclosed space.

    1. Cat*

      And here I am thinking your advice sounded incredibly well measured and maybe even a little understated.

      1. Fancy Owl*

        Fair enough! I think my perception of what’s intense is skewed because nobody else in my office is wearing masks or trying to distance at all unless I make them when they talk to me. So I feel like a major outlier at work but now that I’m reading the comments here it’s nice to see other people are still trying too.

        1. Cat*

          Oh, exactly. I completely understand why you qualified it! I feel like a major outlier in life right now.

          Most of the commenters here give me hope for the world; the stories they are telling on the other hand, terrify me.

    2. Show Me the Money*

      I don’t know a soul who enjoys wearing masks or finds them comfortable to wear for extended periods. I sure don’t. But I won’t leave my home without one, for my protection and the protection of others. It’s a sacrifice we all need to make now during this every 70-100 year event.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      I think your comments make sense.

      They’re a little easier to do in an office situation where you have ongoing relationships and some trust built up. I’m struggling with people at the post office tho, and not being Very Rude to them.

  21. Chronic Overthinker*

    We have four offices total spread across the state. Partners have given us monthly updates and try to follow our states regulations; distancing, masks, WFH if needed. We were WFH exclusively (except for essential staff, like me) for the past three months but as of June we are all back in the office. However, staff regularly ask to WFH as needed. We scrambled to get wipes and sanitizer for each assistant/staff member and try to use disposable cutlery/plates/cups for food to avoid contamination. As the receptionist I wipe down conference rooms after each use; door handles, chairs, light switches etc. We are encouraged to use masks but not required and some staff do not use masks, but most do. As I am usually the first point of contact, I always wear a mask. It’s been okay, but some higher ups don’t wear masks and it frustrates me as they often have in-person meetings with clients. I almost want to leave a stack of masks on their chair to see if they get the hint, but don’t want to over-step.

  22. Chapstick Addict*

    Ugh. My company has been open this whole time, and a small handful of people are WFH because of extenuating circumstances, but 95% of us have been in the office throughout. My company has been……..barely adequate. They do sanitize, and they put up plexiglass between cubes, but the directives from management are all very poorly worded and take the tone of “I don’t understand why we have to take all these precautions but they’re mandated so I GUESS you should wear a mask but also if you don’t want to you don’t need to” when what we really need is “Hey, masks are mandated. Wear em.” About 5% of our workforce has gotten sick (that we know about) across the two buildings we work in, but the numbers are probably higher because management is very very slow to let us know when someone’s been diagnosed (and my state still has a LOT of restrictions on who can get tested). So ultimately we all end up in direct or indirect contact with people who are sick and them don’t get notified promptly and don’t get extra leave for quarantine (even though we should under one of the coronavirus bills, management decided that they could successfully win the lawsuit if it came to that, because of our the company is structured)

  23. Federal Drone*

    I’ve been at work since everything shut down. I work in federal printing and our department mission can’t be done from home. The agency split our sections into teams and we work every other week (the idea is that if someone gets Covid, only half the section is exposed and the other team will be brought in.

    Since then they have installed plexiglass extenders to our cubicle walls. We wear masks any time we are not at our cubicle, or if there are visitors to the room. This is all agency mandated rules.

    I also disinfect my desk and keyboard daily when I get to work. My teammate and I consider each other part of our “contact circle”, which helped when a sprinkler head broke and destroyed half the computers in our department, since that meant we’ve been forced to hot desk while new computers were bought and set up with the proprietary software we need.

    We expect to come back to full time at some point in July or August while Congress is in recess, but there’s no firm date—and I expect numbers in the DC area need to continue to drop. As we don’t yet know how the protests will affect that, we’re all just in sit and wait mode.

    1. Cat*

      Probably not the type of printing you meant but picturing people working from home with sheets of hundred dollar bills rolling off a printing gave me a nice chuckle. :-)

      I like the alternating week strategy, that seems a much better strategy than alternating days within the week. And, if you’re all getting tested before your week on then that would be even better.

      1. Federal Drone*

        None of us is getting regular testing, but we do have on-site full time medical staff and they check symptoms, temperatures as needed, and contact tracing.

        We’re less money printing and more archives and Federal Register :)

        I am going to miss 9 day weekends :)

    2. Grumpy Lady*

      I work Fed as well in the DC area and our office is at 40% right now. I had to ask to be moved to an empty office when I do come in (Im high risk and my desk is in a high traffic area). So far they are accommodating but when I went in earlier this week no one was wearing masks in our office area. I also sanitize my desk before using it and try to avoid people when in the office. I think July more fed buildings will open up. I usually take metro but have been driving. Not sure what Im going to do as things get more busy.

  24. CTT*

    My office is in phase 2 and allowing up to 50% capacity. I think we rushed it (matching our entire region’s rush), but I also think they’ve handled it as well as they can. They’re enforcing the capacity restrictions, and they’ve provided all the protective gear that they require we use. I’m back in the office because I never adapted well to WFH and my apartment’s AC is loud and mediocre, so this was good timing for me and my goal to not feel constantly sweaty.

    The one thing that bugs me is that to encourage more people to come in, they’ve instituted a week on/week off policy; this is my week to be in the office and next week I’ll be back home. I worry that I’ll keep having to re-adapt. I think that at least half the office would prefer to stay home or has to due to childcare issues so I feel like it would be more effective to figure out who wants to do what instead of making people switch off.

    1. noahwynn*

      My office has the same week on/week off plan. Thankfully they also allowed each department to decide when they will require employees to come back in. In my department of 8, I’m the only one that wants to come in, so right now I’m coming in the office everyday and not following the week on/week off plan. It works for now since there is no one in our cubicle area, but I’m sure once more people return I’ll have to start following the week on/week off plan. I’m not looking forward to it, my one bedroom apartment feels extra small when you spend all your time there.

    2. WellRed*

      Our office was very clear that one thing we WON’T do is the week on, week off schedule. WFH, work part time from, work full time in the office, come in at different times, sure. We are not back at all yet, except for the ocassional person who needs to pop in and then they announce it and make sure they are the only one.

  25. Keymaster of Gozer*

    UK based here. I’m currently unemployed and at high risk (multiple disabilities) and my husband has to return to his office soon, which involves a half hour train journey each way and working in a city (we live in a small town).

    He’s worried about bringing anything back to me.

    So, we’ve got a plan:

    1. Disposable masks (hopefully get some washable ones soon). To be worn on the train and in the office and if he goes out for lunch etc.

    2. Hand sanitiser and gloves. Especially for when he gets off the train. UK trains are filthy anyway…

    3. Specific clothes for work that go in a separate bag for washing to the rest of the household clothes. He’s to take those off and have a shower as soon as he gets home.

    4. I set up a Slack channel so he can check in with me, ask about any situations he finds himself in at work (in my past life I was a virologist) etc.

    5. He works with a couple of people who have been vocal on the ‘this virus isn’t dangerous, it’s all made up drama’ stuff so he’s planning on having lots of subject changes if they try to engage him in those kind of conversations. He’s assured me he’ll keep well away from them since they’re unlikely to wear masks/wash hands.

    6. When he gets home in the evening, after his shower, he’s to have at least 2 hours uninterrupted World of Warcraft time to decompress from the stress. This means I keep the cat occupied in another room :p

    1. SweetestCin*

      re: number 3 – is there anything in particular you’re doing to his clothing to clean it particularly, or is this just to limit the amount of things that could potentially be contaminated? (Asking as I prepare to go back to physical office soon…which means I have to trust that a LOT of people are “behaving”, which I’m sure they’re not, or I have to plan to keep my family safe myself. Spouse has been working as is considered essential, but given type of work, there’s not a lot of human contact that we’ve had to worry about.)

      The folks you reference with 5 have pretty well left me alone after I replied to such with “I’ve seen an intubation kit and ventilator at my daughter’s bedside. Just the sight alone was terrifying. And that was pre-Covid. Keep your moist droplets to yourself please.”

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Wish the ‘doubters’ would leave him alone, but given they’ve tried to hassle him about it almost non stop since they found out I’m a) high risk and b) qualifies as a virologist I doubt they can be convinced.

        The clothing thing is more to protect me than him. I regularly sort the laundry and load the washing machine etc so I’m rummaging around in the clothes. I’ve seen some outright revolting behaviour regarding hygiene on pre-Covid trains before so during these times I want clothes that have been on trains absolutely nowhere near my hands.

    2. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      Re: #4-6, kudos for you both for addressing & planning for these non-tangible things like mental health, safety check-ins (I’m sure the ability to check in with each other eases anxiety too), and even a plan for avoiding annoying or uncomfortable conversations. I especially like that y’all have agreed upon his decompression time, because that can be difficult if you’re at home alone all day to have someone come home and want to be left alone while you’re chomping at the bit for company.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I had basically a nervous breakdown earlier this year, doing much better now, so I’m now very concerned that people look after their mental state in all this. I asked husband unit how he felt would be best for him to relax after work and he wanted the uninterrupted computer time so I’ve got plans to do some sewing while putting something on the iPad for the cat to watch.

        (Kitty loves watching QI and Star Trek :p )

  26. Jimby*

    Environment consultant here-

    Luckily, health and safety is a huge component of my industry, so my company (very large one) is taking this seriously. We have a 3 phase reopen plan for each office. Mine is currently phase 2, so we’re allowing 50% capacity (you have to sign up ahead of time to make sure there’s space), masks must be worn when not at your desk, sanitize before and after (we typically hotdesk), and the break room is only open for handwashing. We are encouraged to work from home if we still can – I’ve been going in once a week just to follow up on my little tasks that pile up.

    My favorite part was the company video meeting where someone asked “what if folks don’t want to wear masks,” and the response was pretty much “you are adults and need to act like it and respect your coworkers and their health. This is a requirement [obviously excluding medical exclusions] and you will need to fulfill it”

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      But what if they don’t? I would love to know what actions companies are taking against people who are refusing to wear masks not because they have medical issues that prevent it, but just because they don’t want to. My mom is running into this issue with some randos at her job, and she’s not even sure what her HR department would do.

      1. Anonacoon*

        We took the hard-line. It is company policy that masks are to be worn while on the job. It is the policies of our vendors and our customers that masks are to be worn while on their properties. If I get a call from a vendor or customer saying XX tech didn’t have a mask on, you will be sent home. If it happens again, you’re fired.

      2. Jimby*

        I can’t say for sure what the company-wide policy is specifically for masks – when “you have to do this for health and safety” is already enforced all the time (including disciplinary action), it becomes pretty engrained in your actions.

        I do know that we had an issue with a subcontractor’s team and those individuals are now blacklisted from working with us.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          You would hope, but I have worked for some incredibly avoidant employers in my career that are hesitant to fire employees for showing up to work with weapons, so not wearing a mask when it’s mandatory would not automatically rise to that consequence there.

          1. Hillary*

            I work for a large manufacturer – I assume (haven’t heard formally since I’m not allowed to go to any plants as an office employee) that safety conscious employers are treating masks just like any other PPE. Not wearing your safety glasses? Write up. Earplugs? Write up. Cut protection sleeves/gloves, welding apron, hi vis vest, whatever, it’s all the same process.

            My office is currently work from home unless it’s physically impossible, and no visiting any location other than your home base without a permission slip signed by executive leadership. Some offices where working from home is difficult but not impossible have people taking turns – one week in, next week out.

      3. GAOffice*

        Ours was absolutely great. We just started allowing the office to be used around the beginning of June. It’s been on a volunteer-only, max 50% capacity at once, and fully scheduled in advance setup. We have one team member that has been pushing to be in the office all along/didn’t understand why he couldn’t come in during March/April/May. Our leadership implemented a 3-strike policy: first was a reminder of the terms one committed to upon signing up to come in, second was a stern warning about how coming in was a privilege, and the last was a threat to revoke work from the office rights. We all kinda figured that last one was a bit of a bluff but also that no one would be stupid enough to get there. But this guy managed to go through all of his 3 strikes in less than two weeks (first was a mask violation, second was coming in when he wasn’t on the schedule, and third was another mask violation). They actually pulled his whole key card so he can’t even access the office now. He was told they would revisit whether he could try again in 4 weeks.

        It was amazing and felt so good to know that our leadership is taking this seriously and isn’t just blustering with their consequences.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          That is amazing and is exactly the kind of enforcement I would hope companies are taking right now.

  27. Sciencer*

    I work at a small public college (less than 10k students, including grad students) and they’ve decided to maximize in-person learning for fall semester. They’re particularly prioritizing the types of classes I teach, with hands-on stuff that doesn’t translate easily to remote delivery, which is both nice (that they realize not all classes are the same) and frustrating (as it puts extra pressure on those of us who teach those classes, like we have less standing to say we aren’t comfortable teaching in person). I’m personally in a low risk group but my husband is not, and some of my close colleagues are not. So I feel anxious about returning primarily because of the risks to others, especially as my husband could (and probably will) continue to work from home indefinitely, so I will be the primary risk to our household.

    What they’re doing on campus:

    Masks are mandatory everywhere except your office, and you have to have one within reach in case someone shows up. I suspect this will be VERY hard to enforce outside of class time; we’ve already had an email chastising faculty for not following this rule in hallways. If we can’t get 100% buy-in from faculty, it will be hard to enforce among students. Profs are allowed to use a clear face shield if they don’t want to teach with a mask on.

    They’re setting up one-way hallways and specific “flows” within buildings to keep crowding down. They’re shortening class periods to allow more cleaning time between each class, and will ask students to clean their desks when they leave (sounds like a cleaning supply bottleneck, but we’ll see). All class sizes will be capped to the room space to allow 6 ft between each person, and evening/weekend class times will be added to allow for this. They’re adding mics and cameras to many classrooms to facilitate remote learning (only really works for lectures, but those are the most crowded classes, so it’s a step).

    In terms of student life, they’ve suspended the typical rule that freshmen must live on campus, and are maximizing single-occupancy dorms (originally I heard no roommates, now they’ve said some doubles but no triples). I suspect the dining hall will maximize grab-and-go options, but that will be difficult in our climate where you can’t always eat outside (and you can’t eat with a mask on, so eating in class/hallways will become taboo I guess?). No word yet on whether the rec center will be open or how athletics will work. Major community events are already being rethought as virtual. We may or may not go remote after Thanksgiving break, since it’s a very short time between that and Winter break, but I’m sure some faculty will be unhappy with doing remote finals again.

    They’re still encouraging WFH whenever possible, and while we’re in summer session, only actively teaching faculty and essential staff are allowed on campus at all, with ID card access to buildings. They are offering limited in-person summer classes to test all this out, which is the part that I’m most happy about, because I honestly think most of the steps (while good in theory) are not going to play out as planned with thousands of students on campus.

    What I wish they would do:

    Communicate more specific expectations around behavior off campus. We’re located in a small community and already have a slightly tense relationship with local residents. I suspect this messaging will ramp up as we get close to fall semester, but so far there has been ZERO discussion to the effect of “we expect our students to respect local guidelines, wear masks in public, etc., and there will be consequences from us if we hear about incidents off campus.”

    Set up some kind of social pod system for students, especially for freshmen. Returning students will already have their friend groups and can make smart choices about who to be careful with and who to be more natural with (like a significant other or best friend). Freshmen are craving new friends and will have a horribly hard time *making* friends if they don’t feel like they can socialize naturally with anyone. So I anticipate some students becoming very isolated and lonely, and others becoming too cavalier and creating a safety issue. I’d love to see us set up artificial social groups based on shared classes and dorm proximity and encourage students to at least start out the year that way, which isn’t all that different from the more organic tendency to be friends with your roommate and floor mates before you slowly start meeting more people and making better friends outside that circle. I just feel like it’s complete denial to think that we can ask students to stay “socially distanced” at a time when they’re primed to branch out, meet people, date people, make stupid decisions, etc. The more we can provide safe environments for them to have those experiences, the better, in my opinion.

    Stop using specific types of classes as a selling point for students & parents. This puts so much pressure on those particular faculty. I am *okay* with going back, but quite anxious about it, and I honestly do not feel like I could push for remote delivery of my specific classes. They’re being used as evidence that we’re still going to have the same standards of learning and high quality experiences that we’ve always offered. Meanwhile I’m wondering how I’m going to do half of the things that make up the foundation of my class while following social distancing rules – it would honestly be easier and more effective to do some things online! So we’re creating this expectation that will be hard to deliver on, while also burdening specific faculty more than others.

    But I go back and forth on this, because as sacrifices for the job go, this doesn’t hold a candle to what truly essential workers are experiencing. And my physical and mental health are definitely suffering under the extended WFH experience, and Zooming every single day at the end of spring semester was hard as well. So I’m trying to recognize that there are no perfect solutions here, and be thankful that my administration is at least taking the virus seriously and making tangible steps to control it. I know that is emphatically not the case in many universities; a friend works at MSU where faculty aren’t even allowed to require masks in their own classrooms, which is *infuriating*.

    Sorry for the novel. I have a lot of thoughts about this :)

    1. Scared to teach*

      Thanks for your note. I teach at a midwestern public university and they are saying that with masks and distancing, we will be on campus. I am trying to get accommodation to teach online because of at-risk family, but I am having no luck.

  28. school of hard knowcs*

    We are essential defense and have been working continuously in manufacturing. Due to safety, gloves and masks, safety glasses, hard hats with face shields, & steel toed shoes were already a norm in the mfg area. Old office building so we already had our own offices. Don’t get jealous, mine is 11 ft by 17 ft. The additional changes management made were: Restrictions on visitors. Temperature taken every morning, masks, wipes & hand sanitizer, social distancing in hallways, virtual meetings.. even tho we are in the same building. Also extra cleaning person who constantly wipes down doors, lights and common areas. Pretty much the standard recommendations. The data currently, one confirmed case in April,(contracted via family) others close workers were tested .. no one was positive. This is doable. For management, extra costs were cleaning person, extra cleaning supplies and more masks. The alternative of having the whole workforce potentially out sick was worse.

  29. WorkerBee*

    I am really, really lucky – my boss knows I have a health condition that will make COVID extra dangerous, so she has closed our store to in-person traffic – phone and email only. We’re ordering plexiglass, but everyone else is ordering plexiglass too, so it will take a while. There are only 2-3 people in our building at a time lately, and we can be far apart with our workstations. Zero tolerance policy on sick people working. On the rare occasion we do have to speak to a customer in person, my boss handles it and distances herself from the customer. I’m the only one in the building that I know of who has an additional health problem, and it’s really sweet to see that they’re extra careful with me even on top of other precautions. The good side of working for a small business!

  30. Environmental Compliance*

    My facilities are back open.

    1. Masks are required and provided. Refuse to wear them with no medical reason? You’re sent home. Belligerent at the security team handing out masks? Sent home for longer. Come back and try to lie your way in? Well, you may no longer work for this facility.

    2. Temperature checks required to enter the facilities. If you are too warm, you’re sent home.

    3. All levels of management are wearing masks & enforcing distancing. Meetings are held over Zoom as much as possible.

    4. Production floor has been spaced out as much as possible (and marked up to show 6 ft increments). If you can’t be spaced out due to machinery safety issues, there’s now plexiglass barriers.

    5. Offices can request plexiglass barriers to prevent people meandering in.

    6. Common areas (door knobs, bathrooms, drawers, cabinets, breakrooms) are disinfected 2x per shift. Deep cleans once per week.

    7. If the job allows WFH, you’re WFH for as long as you want…. and if you’re in a high traffic area, you’re rotating WFH regardless if you want to be in the office.

    8. So. Much. Hand sanitizer. It’s everywhere.

    9. No visitors unless it’s critical, and if they need to be onsite, they cannot be from a high-incident area, and they must wear all appropriate PPE onsite. This has to be justified pretty high up, so it has significantly minimized anyone coming onsite.

    10. Staff that may have been exposed are sent home for quarantine, as are those exhibiting symptoms. There have been a few trainings & fact sheets sent out for what is exposure, what staff can look for, etc, and there’s a phone number for people to call to report this.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      1. Masks are required and provided. Refuse to wear them with no medical reason? You’re sent home. Belligerent at the security team handing out masks? Sent home for longer. Come back and try to lie your way in? Well, you may no longer work for this facility.

      This is the type of enforcement I hope more companies follow. I don’t have to worry as I work from home, but my brother’s about to start a new job soon and has to go in office every other week (and he has bronchitis and is overweight) and my diabetic mother has to return to her office next week – I’m terrified for them. Too many people in our area are walking around like COVID just disappeared and I can see us having another spike soon.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I’ve been very lucky in how our upper management is handling most of this. Luckily for the employees, after one lovely gentleman got kicked out after getting very belligerent with security, it seems that everyone has gotten the message for the most part. And our upper level EHS staff isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with those above them to push through orders, even if we don’t have a budget line set up.

        My previous job (that I left right before COVID) shut down kind of, because the plant manager got canned, but then just….reopened, no masks as far as I’ve heard, had some direct contact issues…. husband’s old job had a confirmed case at the facility and aren’t sending anyone home…. it’s a mess that I’m glad neither of us are part of.

  31. Mediamaven*

    On the flip side, what do you do when you have employees who are not following social distancing in their personal lives. It feels unfair to be exposed to those people at work for the people who are working hard to stop the spread, but you can’t just let people stay home indefinitely because they keep breaking the guidelines.

    1. Deborah*

      This. I am linked to some of my co-workers on social media, and so I see their pictures of going to visit friends, going to a gender reveal party where they are hugging people, going on a beach vacation in a hotel with friends etc. Then they come to work. After we had an outbreak at work, they’ve finally started distancing *at work* but it’s still so very frustrating and scary.

  32. noahwynn*

    The company I work for is allowing work from home for anyone that is able for the foreseeable future, they’ve said at least through the end of September and then they will evaluate again. For those that need/want to come to the office, they’ve designated each cubicle as either blue or orange. Orange cube dwellers are in the office during week 1 and blue during week 2. If you need to be in the office during your opposite week, there are a large number of hotdesk cubes you can use and most departments have a few extra cubes of each color as well. They’ve also said we cannot stand at our sit to stand desks since that places you over the top of the cubicle wall and limits any separation.

    There are arrows on the floor to guide one-way traffic where possible and two-way arrows where it is not to remind people to keep their distance and walk to one side. Capacity in each conference room has been reduced by half, and that number now shows in Outlook when you book a room. In addition, they added signs to all the doors with the new recommended capacity. Using Microsoft Teams is still the preferred meeting method though.

    The security guard at the front desk takes our temperatures every day when we come in. We’re required to wear face masks whenever we are not sitting at our desks. There are also carts setup with disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer throughout the office. On our first day back we each received a little kit that had 2 reusable masks and a small bottle of hand sanitizer we can refill from the big bottles on the carts.

    The big thing has been a huge cultural change to embracing remote work. In the past, they were very much against it outside of weather emergencies and other limited circumstances. Now there seems to be a realization that it is possible and not everyone is just at home slacking off. I’ve heard a few different department leaders mention that they may not require their employees to ever return to the office. Personally, I work better at the office, so I’ve been coming in. The rest of my department is all still working from home, so I just sit in my orange cube every day since there is no one around me anyways.

    1. Jaid*

      Well, I just got news that I’ll probably get called back 7/13.

      “FMSS should be cleaning all buildings before any employees report back along with ensuring adequate hand sanitizer, a supply of disposable masks (although you are encouraged to wear your own); disinfectant wipes and other cleaning products. Signage is being added to buildings limiting the number of people in breakrooms and on elevators, encouraging distancing and reminding employees to stay home if they are not feeling well.”

      I’m bringing a portable steamer for cleaning, bento thermos jars for meals so I can avoid the breakroom, and a tension rod/shower curtain liner to create a barrier for my cubicle entrance.

      However, my temp can be 97.4 in the morning and go up to 99 later in the day if it’s too hot in the office (not C19 related, I got tested. It’s probably hormonal, yay.). I always keep a fan on, so I’m concerned that I may be told to turn it off

  33. Mannheim Steamroller*

    My employer has already announced its plan:

    – 30% of employees will return in July.

    – 30% will return in August.

    – 30% will return in September.

    – The remaining 10% will return later or keep working from home.

    – All returning employees will be assigned to alternating office days and home days.

    – Shifts will be staggered, with employees starting at 7:30, 8:30, or 9:30. (My division will also allow some employees to start at 6:30.)

    – Face coverings are mandatory.

    – Temperatures will be checked in the lobby.

  34. Wired Wolf*

    My employer hasn’t really released any guidelines/training…I probably know more than they do and we suspect that they’re waiting to bring us back until they can come up with training that satisfies both the state and our job requirements. My team has been talking amongst ourselves and we’ve made a workable plan. The restaurants in our space have guidelines for indoor dining; servers wear masks, barriers are going to be installed between tables, wrapped cutlery and a few others I don’t recall. I’m not restaurant but sat in on the Teams presentation anyway and have come up with ways that we can work efficiently and safely…it’s not how our managers have been doing it.

  35. V8 Fiend*

    Medical librarian supporting an association – we’ve been working from home since March. 15 volunteers were asked to come back the beginning of June, but everyone else is still working from home. We have to wear a mask if we are outside of our offices, and professional cleaners come through multiple times a day. We’ve have been so incredibly lucky with the way it’s been handled!

  36. Anonacoon*

    We’re essential and service-based, so we never closed – but I implemented policies back in February to help reduce contact. We’re a small business, so these sorts of changes were relatively easy.
    1) Everyone was assigned their own truck. No more swapping trucks based on jobs and what equipment was where. Stock your truck with what you need, every day. Trucks are to be sanitized before and after every shift.
    2) We stopped meeting at the shop every morning. All work was distributed via email and text. Timecards were moved out of the back office and into the shop, into the direct sun.
    3) Service techs were given masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, sanitizer. They work on high-touch-traffic items (think keypads) so they are to clean all equipment before beginning service.
    4) Techs are not to go into property offices or inside any buildings. Masks are to be worn at all times. Social distancing is to be maintained at all times. If they must talk to someone on the property, call them. If someone from the property approaches them, request they maintain social distancing.
    5) Two of our techs are roommates. Both were retrained so that they could work together on jobs that required more than one person. I imagine they’re sick of each other by now.
    6) One tech has an immuno-compromised toddler and has several health issues of his own. He was reassigned to the shop, permanently. He’s shaping up to be a fantastic warehouse/supply manager.
    7) Took full advantage of the FFCRA. Made it a policy that if the employee or someone in their family is sick, they are to stay home. (This sounds silly, but this is a group of guys who haven’t had jobs where that is the norm, and calling in sick meant being fired.)
    8) I’m 100% remote now. I only go into the shop to scan the time cards.

  37. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    I started a new job the morning before a “shelter in place” order went into effect for the city & county back in March. The company has started bringing people back in and we’re at 50% capacity right now. I’m in a conservative southern state and the company skews conservative and towards the “Masks are a violation of my civil rights” mentality. HOWEVER in an attempt to minimize their liability the company has instituted a ‘masks must be worn at all times when moving around the building’ policy that has been incorporated into the employee handbook. They have been very clear that not wearing a mask is not an option and that failure to comply with this policy will be handled the same as violations of other company policies with escalating consequences.

    The biggest thing I can say is to also lead by example. I’m 3 months into the job, you would think I wouldn’t have much capital, BUT I trained with and ultimately replaced a retiring admin who was very beloved, and very well respected. She talked me up to everybody and that conferred a lot of respect on me. By nature of the position, I’ve got a lot of ‘power’ as well. I’m trying to lead by example with things like pushing back on in-person meetings, literally taking steps backwards when people get too close, and never leaving my office without a mask in place. It also helps that my seamstress housemate has made me a variety of masks in a bunch of different colors & patterns. Since they’re so fun, everybody notices and comments on them and asks if they can get one.

    1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      Since the industry I’m in now is sports adjacent, they’re a big thing here. My boss is a a VP who oversees 4 departments and is majorly immunocompromised. He’d been wearing plain boring black masks. I brought in a mask that was patterned with the logo of his favorite NFL for him and all of a sudden people are far more willing to wear their masks if it means they can show of their favorite teams. It seems silly, but the visibility of leadership not just complying with the masking guidelines, but actively encouraging it as a way to spread ‘team engagement’ really made a difference.

    2. Cat*

      Well, I suppose I don’t care if the reason for wearing a mask is not fear of the virus but instead fear of lawsuits. I mean, that’s a tragic commentary on society, but I guess we’ll take what we can get. :-(

  38. Elizabeth West*

    I’m still not working (*SIGH*) but if and when I ever get any more interviews, I have already added questions about COVID policies to my interview form. I’ve also been mentioning in my cover letters that I have considerable experience with collaborative telework, especially when I apply out of state. Not that anyone cares, but whatev.

  39. Elly*

    I’m a teacher, and no details yet about how we’re going back (other than guidance from the state to open physically.) I’m working retail for the summer and only about 1/5 of the customers wear masks – I’m just trying to wash my hands a lot and hope I stay healthy till fall.

    1. Bob, Your Uncle*

      good luck! school districts in the area keep sending out vaguely worded but ultimately useless information about how classes will be handled in the Fall.

    2. Library Media Specialist*

      I’m also a teacher and I haven’t gotten any information about what’s going to happen but I fully expect they’re going to make us physically go back. My elderly mother lives with me and I’m terrified I’m going to catch it and bring it home and kill her (assuming I survive it myself). And if I do catch it, what am I going to do about sick leave? There’s no way I’ll have enough to be gone for the amount that I should stay home.

      And if we go back physically, I don’t see how I’ll avoid catching it. I work with little kids and they have no concept of how to properly wash their hands and stuff. Every time anything goes around, it runs rampant through the school. I’ll do my best, but they’re little kids and it’s *airborne.* I don’t expect that the admin will support even trying to have them wear masks, either. My supervisor doesn’t wear masks.

  40. Turquoisecow*

    I work from home all the time and won’t be required to go to the office, but here’s what my company is planning for those who are: they’re reopening next Monday, with the first two weeks currently planned as optional. The office has been divided into an A and B team with each team going in for a week and a thorough sanitation happening over the weekends. If you’re on the A team you’re not allowed to go in on the B week and vice versa. The teams were organized so that no one is sitting next to anyone and social distancing is possible.

    Everyone will have to enter through one entrance and have their temperature checked first, then proceed down one way hallways to their desks (they seem quite proud of the signs with arrows they designed). Masks are required in common areas but not while at your desk even if you sit at a cubicle (which sounds dumb to me). We’re not the only tenants in the building and the landlord “encourages” but claims they can’t require masks in the common areas including lobby, elevators, and bathrooms, but I think we’re currently the only tenants on the floor so we have the bathrooms to ourselves.

    The kitchen has been sanitized and only one person will be allowed in at a time.

    Also, if you have a medical condition, you can just produce a note from your doctor (no diagnosis necessary) saying that it’s unsafe for you to go in, and you’ll be allowed to keep working from home. If you just don’t feel it’s safe but have no medical reason, or if you’re responsible for childcare and don’t have any other way to care for your kid, you’ll have to take an unpaid leave of absence.

    I think they’re being as safe as they can but I’m still glad I don’t have to go in.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Oh, and they’ve also procured plenty of hand sanitizer, which they’re giving out to everyone, and cloth masks. Each person will get five, so they can wear one a day and then wash them on the days they’re not in the office.

  41. RedinSC*

    we’ve been working all along.

    we all wear masks. Staff who could work from home did, to open up space for those who could not.
    In prepping for people to come back, we’ve removed some desks, we’re adding plexi-shields for front desk, everyone is issued hand sanitizer, we’ve upped our in office cleaning, we do temp and symptom checks before anyone enters the building. We’ve put serious limits on how many people can be in a conference room, and gotten everyone up to speed on Teams and Skype meetings.

    Very early on we locked out doors, stopped our volunteer program and didn’t let people in the building unless they have a pre-arranged appointment.

    It’s not perfect, but so far, through all of this, we have not had anyone contract COVID (keeping our fingers crossed). Testing only really became available for people about 5 weeks ago, and we’re encouraging all staff to go and be tested as often as they want to rule out asymptomatic carriers.

  42. blackcat*

    One thing I haven’t seen here that I think is nice–my husband’s company is providing a bagged lunch for everyone in the office (provided they sign up the day before). They’re doing this to prevent people going to get lunch at the nearby places and increasing exposure that way.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      That is a good idea. My mom’s company has a cafeteria where everyone used to eat for free – that’s been closed now. Instead, they’re handing out boxed meals to people (so long, salad bar) to go eat at their desks – no one is allowed to eat in the caf or in the break rooms anymore.

  43. Seattle Receptionist*

    I work as a receptionist in a very small physical therapy clinic in the Seattle area, and we were considered essential business so we did not close. I knew this was a big deal early on, but it took a while to get my boss and everyone else on board. I started wearing a mask in mid-March, before anyone else in the clinic did (I had some Home Depot type N95 masks on hand, so I wore those, and reused them because we could not get PPE. Later I made a bunch of cloth masks for myself, because the Home Depot ones protect the wearer but not anyone else). I was very anxious to go to work, because a relative of mine died in March from COVID. I was scared because I was seeing multiple patients every day, and no one else was wearing a mask. (Our patient total dropped for a while, but we are currently back to pre-COVID levels).

    Over the next couple of weeks, my boss and the other PTs started wearing masks (these were reusable filter masks intended to protect against smoke from forest fires, etc., because that’s what he could get). The boss’s wife had to convince him that he needed to protect himself, because if he got sick, the clinic would close, and then they would be screwed. At a certain point, I told my boss I did not feel safe, and he built me a wrap-around plexiglass screen for the front desk. This made me feel a lot safer. Finally, in mid-May, the clinic started requiring all patients to wear a mask as a condition of entry. That was the point when my anxiety finally went down. So, basically I was totally anxious at work for two months, and it was really difficult.

    I considered staying home from work in March (which we were allowed to do without penalty, but also without pay). But I knew things would be very difficult for the clinic if I did this because I was the main receptionist, and also I did not want to stay at home in our small condo while my husband was working from home. I’m glad I continued working, even though it was a challenging time.

    Now I feel pretty safe at work most of the time. We have a couple patients who still refuse to wear masks, but there is a protocol to deal with this. We can now get some PPE (surgical masks and gloves). There is also a daily cleaning routine, where I wipe down tables, doorknobs, phones, the front desk, chairs, etc. Thankfully, we always able to find disinfectant, which was in short supply for a while.

  44. ElizaHam*

    I’m in California and at a large non-profit. We’ve been home for 3 months now and the earliest anyone will go back is August 15. Even then not all of us will go back and we’ve been given the option to work from home after that if we have immunocompromised loved ones (my kids are both high risk). I realize we’re really, really lucky! They ordered us all masks already, we were already stocked up on cleaning supplies (including hand sanitizer, we all had our own to begin with), and I’m hopeful that things will go as smoothly as they can when the office actually opens.

  45. Anne Elliot*

    I work in an essential government area and have an odd schedule. I work in a secure facility on Mondays (my client agency), WFH Tuesday through Thursday, and work from my main office on Fridays (my employing agency). It’s weird how sort of “hit-or-miss” things are. In my main office I have an an actual personal office, so I lock it when I’m not there to make sure people are not going in. There’s only a skeleton staff working there (and I’m only there one day a week to make sure our office is “staffed”), but the building management is rigorous in insisting on masks if you’re out of your own office, no in-person meetings, observe social distancing, and don’t come into the building at all until you have to.

    The client’s secure facility has more daily traffic because people have to be there. You have to be temp-tested at the door and walk across a disinfecting mat. But once you’re in, people seem much more lax about keeping their masks on and observing social distancing. There’s a sort of “we’re all in this together” camaraderie in this line of work that I think is a great thing, but that seems to be doing people a disservice in this case. In that office, I still wear a mask if I’m out of my assigned office space; practice social distancing; and wash my hands a ton. If people think I’m odd to have my mask on, so be it. In that office, I also bring and use disinfecting wipes on the desk and chair I am using (both before and, as a courtesy, after), because this is not my dedicated space and other people use it on other days. I bring my own computer in my laptop bag and also have a small pouch of necessary office supplies, so I do not use supplies that others may have left in this space. I have to eat lunch in that work space (because the facility is secure and I can’t easily leave), but I bring it from home in a insulated lunch bag and only eat what I myself have prepared and brought.

    1. Anne Elliot*

      Let me also say in terms of reopening: The secure facility has been open the whole time as it provides essential services. My main office is minimally staffed by rotation (and I take part in that rotation) but they have told us they have no projected plans to reopen at this point.

  46. InfoSec SemiPro*

    My company still has closed all major offices with a process for asking for permission to go in and get your personal effects or restart a machine (we’re in tech) if the tiny number of people who are in the office regularly can’t do it for you. Company policy is that staff can choose to remain working from home through at least the end of 2020.

    The head of my department says if no one comes back to an office before there’s a vaccine, he’s okay with that. We do have some staff who would much, much rather be working from an office, and when their local office reopens, they may choose to do so… but our department is telling people they can’t work from even an opened office for the first two weeks its opened. Call us selfish, but we’re going to let other departments take that risk first.

    I’m probably not going to be back in the office on a regular basis before Valentine’s Day, and even that depends on what happens with school/child care for my supposed-to-be-in-kindergarten-in-the-fall child. (They’re talking about split schedules to keep the number of kids in the class room at one time below thresholds – like one week on one week off, which will be a nightmare to find care for.)

    I work in tech, for an internet company. This may have moved the company to being much closer to a fully remote company, which we desperately needed. I’m hoping it clears up some of the “if you don’t work in HQ, you don’t matter” bias that was bonkers pre-COVID and is extra silly now.

    1. WellRed*

      “like one week on one week off,”

      Not to mention, a nightmare for kids who need routines. They’d be better off doing morning and afternoon kindergarten (which was normal in my area back in the olden days).

      1. Kage*

        Morning + Afternoon shifts don’t really make a lot of sense when you factor in the increased time/effort for the intensive deep-cleaning of the shared classroom space and also the very real limitations on bus routes both in terms of capacity and costs. It makes much more sense for them to be splitting the week instead of days.

        Frankly, the best proposals I’ve heard are the ones where the class is split into two groups:
        -Mon + Tue: Group A does in-person / Group B does distance learning
        -Wed: Teacher Prep Day / School Cleaning / Kids either off or all distance learning
        -Thu + Fri: Group A does distance learning / Group B does in-person

        1. Kage*

          Forgot to add: This sort of schedule also helps with the childcare conundrum as most centers want you to have a fixed schedule every week. This would at least let both parents and providers plan for a specific number of kids and a known schedule that is consistent from week to week.

  47. SheilaB*

    I work on a very large project deemed essential, and was one of the few asked to stay on site during the pandemic. It was a scary few weeks at first, but the company has been stellar in adhering to our country’s government guidelines and best practices to keep us safe as possible. This includes mandatory social distancing on all transport, limiting the # of people in vehicles, face coverings, hand sanitizers and washing stations everywhere. Most importantly, management has modeled the behaviour and at daily/weekly meetings encouraged us to not be complacent. I’ve been fortunate to work, and doubly fortunate that it’s somewhere that takes things seriously.

  48. Anonamom*

    I have two jobs at different offices (for different organizations); one is handling it well and the other…not so much. I found out I was pregnant with my first right around when my state shut down and we were all sent to wfh. The good job has said our offices will likely remain closed until after Labor Day (with the option for people to come into the office–one at a time–if they’d like to, clearing it with others to make sure no one else will be there and cleaning/wiping down surfaces after they leave for the day); since my due date is after that, my boss is trying to work with me to see if I can work from home until after my due date.

    My other job is open to the public (located in a municipal building) and they are opening WAY too soon, imo. Our state/region is one of the worst hit in the country, and they’re rushing to open up, despite the fact we’ve had positive employees, exposed employees, and they’ve told us we have no masks and limited cleaning supplies (they actually sent out an email yesterday telling us to limit our use of office cleaning supplies(!) and that it’s “not necessary” to wipe down commonly touched surfaces/equipment after use(!)). They’re trying to have people come in staggered shifts, but the layout of the offices within our building make it really hard to avoid people. To be clear, 90% of the office staff has no need to come into the office for more than an hour or so once every week or two, just to collect and organize files, print, etc. It honestly feels like more of a power trip on my grandboss’s end because he “wants people back in the office” (also despite the fact he has *many* documented health complications specifically impacting his lungs/heart and shouldn’t be anywhere near the office). I haven’t been forced back yet (due to my pregnancy) but I’ve been warned by my direct supervisor I may not be able to continue wfh for much longer. I’m considering leaving this job (despite needing the money) if I’m forced back before my due date; the money doesn’t feel like it’s worth the potential risk to my/my baby’s health.

    1. WellRed*

      “telling us to limit our use of office cleaning supplies(!) and that it’s “not necessary” to wipe down commonly touched surfaces/equipment after use(!)).

      This is the sort of thing that needs to make its way to your local news. A public building!

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      I sincerely hope that your manager advocates hard for you and they come to their senses so they don’t lose an employee over this.

  49. LGC*

    One good thing was that while a lot of my office hotdesked, I was VERY strict with assigning seating pre plague. (I got yelled at about people taking “their seat,” so I just gave in.)

    We removed a lot of workstations (half of them), and we’ve also put up Plexiglas between the few desks that are facing each other. (Most of them are in a ring around the office.) There’s probably 10 feet of space on average.

    We’re not normally in close contact with each other, in that my employees don’t need to talk to each other often for work. I’ve been doing more of the training if needed. We encourage masks at all times, and while I wear mine, a lot of people don’t. (It’s an advisory, not a requirement.)

  50. Sam Buca*

    Our office provided 2 masks, a large bottle of hand sanitizer, and disinfecting spray to every cube. We are on half staff every other week (although my week has less than half staff, maybe closer to 1/4th). Gloves are provided to deal with high touch place. Daily questionnaires are sent to everyone supposed to be in the office checking in on your health status. Masks are required when out of your cube.

  51. SusanB*

    I am due to go back next week just two days a week because I’m home with my kids the other days.

    I have my own office so I’m easily able to socially distance from others. But we have to take temperatures before we go inside. We all have to wear masks. They’ve increased sanitizer stations throughout the building. If you’re in a cubicle area, they’ve added more seating and spread us out.

    I’m going to be honest. I’m ready to go back. I am a single parent and I am at home with my kids every day and I’m honestly really really really really lonely and depressed. I need to be around other adults for my own mental health. So I like that I can go back. That doesn’t make me an anti-vaxxer or anti-science. I’m not stupid or careless. I am extremely careful and I am following recommendations about masks and hand washing. I don’t have physical health concerns that put me at a higher risk. I realize that doesn’t mean I’m low-risk or no-risk. I respect that others do have those concerns and am letting staff WFH as long as they’d like. But for me? Personally, I have to weigh my mental health concerns with my physical concerns and in MY SPECIFIC CASE my mental need to be around other people is a bigger priority at this time.

    I just had to write that because so often the conversation is “If you are going into work you are careless and anti-science” – I mean, granted, I think there are some people who are being extremely careless (the photos of the giant pool parties in the Ozarks for example) but I think most people are navigating the mental and physical health concerns and making a decision about what works best based on their own “pod” of people they are around and making the best decision.

    1. Sleepy*

      If you have your own office, it doesn’t strike me as terribly reckless to go back to the office. The biggest risk is being in the same room as other people.

      1. SusanB*

        That’s my feeling too but I’m seeing that others disagree that any of us need to go back.

        1. Sleepy*

          It’s good that your company is making office work optional. The fewer people are in the building, the better. That way those who do come in will all have lower risk, and those who feel more comfortable staying home can do so. Seems pretty reasonable, all in all.

    2. not that kind of Doctor*

      Thank you for bringing up mental health. It’s also a very serious concern, and single parents of young children are at the highest risk. It’s good that your office is making it easier to protect your physical health at the same time.

  52. Snow globe*

    Our company will be phasing in returning to work; initially starting with people who *want* to get back in the office and those who meet with clients.

    This week all employees were required to go through an online training about the rules for returning: wearing a mask is mandatory unless you are sitting at least 6 feet away from others, employees are to wash their hands first thing when they arrive, move personal items off desks so desks can be disinfected each evening, etc. We aren’t allowed in the building until we’ve completed the training. My biggest fear is other people not following protocols so this helped.

    1. Sleepy*

      I’m a little baffled by some of these protocols, tbh. I know that research and knowledge is advancing quickly, but…if you are sitting in the same room as someone for an extended period of time, it ultimately does not matter how far apart you are from each other, it matters how good your ventilation system is. Sitting in the same room 20 feet apart for 8 hours means you are going to be breathing the same air as the other person and could spread an infection unless the room has significant airflow. Also, surfaces are not a significant source of infection, so while cleaning desks doesn’t hurt, it’s not likely to help that much, either.

      Hopefully your phasing in will mean that there are fewer people in the buildings.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, they need to be requiring the wearing of masks at all times unless someone is quickly eating lunch or taking a drink.

  53. Sleepy*

    My workplace is involved in a tug of war currently over when we go back. We work in a field where we can do most of our work online, but it’s not as effective–think group therapy.

    When people suggest in-person work, I push back by insisting on steps that make it quite onerous to have things happen in person.

    – Boss: “I think we should meet in person next week to go over this. I’m tired of Zoom.”
    – Me: “Our office has poor ventilation and research shows that airflow is critical. Why don’t we meet in the courtyard, wear masks, and sit 6 feet apart?” That meeting happened online.

    – Boss: “Let’s make a plan for when our llama group therapy will be back in person.”
    – Me: “Okay, let’s draw up waivers for clients to sign. In-person group therapy would be against official recommendations and could put us at risk of a lawsuit, so let’s just make sure we’re protected.” That put that to bed for a while.

    I’m fortunate in that my boss is a reasonable person, and I have the standing to push back against these things.

    1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      This is BRILLIANT!!! Can I steal this? I’m stealing this. It’s not necessarily malicious compliance, but it’s like adjacent to it?? Considering pretty much all safety measures in my office have been instituted in order to reduce the company’s liability, I feel like this is going to be a SUPER effective way of mitigating some of the desires to have in person meetings.

  54. Ruby314*

    It’s really interesting to read all the different approaches. I started working at my workplace via a temp agency two weeks before all going WFH. We just got a notification that they won’t be bringing people in until mid-September, in a phased approach, but without specifics about how it’ll happen but hinting at changes to the office layout, timed lunches, and barriers. Hopefully, by that point, I’ll be a “real” employee with sick leave if I need it. It was super stressful to know that if I caught the virus I wouldn’t have any, because it hadn’t accrued through the temp agency yet. I now have 16 whole hours (eye-roll) which they only need to give me because of a mandatory city ordinance. I know when we go back I’ll definitely be wearing a mask even if it’s not required (though I think it will be). I’m also super lucky that I can walk to work in about 30 minutes, which I actually enjoyed doing the last week in the office when I decided to avoid the bus.

  55. Cheesehead*

    So my boss had decided that we were going to go back to the office starting June 1 and the entire staff ended up pushing back (and won). He had sent out a survey to everyone on staff and one of the questions was to the effect of “which of the following would you be willing to do to protect yourself and your coworkers” and some of the options were wiping down every surface that I touched, wearing a mask all day, etc. I was able to write an answer and said that while I am willing to do these things, the fact is that I shouldn’t have to. If the only way to keep me safe in the office is by wiping down every single surface that I touch each day, then it is not safe to return to the office.

      1. Cheesehead*

        Plus I had the ace up the sleeve, I rent out the spare room of my condo and had someone new move in who works in the hospital and my boss didn’t feel like he could give only me an exception to continue working from home due to my higher risk of infection. Shoutout to the roommate.

  56. Ali G*

    I think I am lucky to work for people who took this seriously from the start, and also in a region that did (and still is) too. We are basically WFH as long as you want/need to. Our building never closed, so we were able to go in and raid our offices for supplies and hardware. No one is forced to go back at any time, but starting now, we can go in when we want. We just need to keep our supervisors in the loop so we don’t get overcrowding. There are cleaning products, sanitizer etc. We expect to be able to keep numbers low enough to not need masks, but people may need to wear them in they can’t keep 6 feet apart. We put up plexiglass dividers on the cubes, and removed chairs from conference rooms.
    We are waiting for 2 things to happen to start having a formal plan:
    1. OSHA to come out with guidelines for office suites
    2. For parents to have reliable access to childcare/full time school
    Until both of those things happen, no one will be forced to go in, and even after I expect we will be on some sort of in-office/WFH schedule to keep numbers low.

  57. 653-CXK*

    I’ve already been at the office, as I do the mail. Here’s what we do…

    – Temperature taking is mandatory. Anything over 100° and you have to go home and notify your supervisor.
    – Masks are required unless you’re by yourself.
    – No physical meetings.
    – All water taps turned off – bring your own water.

    Luckily, I’m on vacation this week, but the plan for my office is to reopen in early July, while still allowing to WFH. My plan is to alternate 3 days WFH (MWF) and 2 days office (TR) until things settle down. Once that’s done, I will probably WFH one day a week (Mondays).

      1. Wired Wolf*

        Drinking water taps? I know my employer has a water dispenser in the break room, that’s probably going to be disabled. I’m not too keen abut storing anything in the break room fridge though.

      2. 653-CXK*

        Whoops…yes, I just realized that mistake! I meant to say all drinking water taps were turned off…the water in the sinks and to do dishes are still OK to use.

  58. Sunset Maple*

    I just got word on Monday that my company is installing plexiglass at all cubicles to create more barriers. We also will each be given a week’s worth of washable cloth masks.

    The cafeterias have been completely overhauled. Everything is now boxed in prepackaged portions, all “accessories” are individually wrapped (cutlery, coffee creamer, etc.), and the self-serve large-quantity items are turned off/eliminated (soda fountain, coffee carafes, salad bar). Lunch shifts for the union workers have been increased and staggered to prevent more than X people eating at the same time. The office workers are asked to eat at their desks and allow the union workers priority use of the facilities.

    My boss fought for my department to get long-term partial WFH after coming back. I definitely appreciate it from a commuting standpoint and I won’t complain, but I don’t know if “exposed to germs, just less often” is truly viable.

  59. Jennifer Strange*

    I’m still working from home, but some employees who are unable to do so have begun returning to our buildings. We’ve created an entire safety committee who have put procedures in place to make this a smooth and safe process, including:
    -Drive up temperature check upon arrival (if there’s fever they are required to go home)
    -Maps showing which doors for each building are entry doors and which are exit doors
    -A google sheet shared by all staff allowing people to input when they plan to be in (date and time) and which building they will be in (to avoid too many people in a single area)
    -Limiting who is even allowed to be in specific areas depending on their position
    -Office-provided hand sanitizer and new and clean paper bags for people to store their masks if they need to be taken off

    In addition to the above, they’ve laid out clear instructions of who to contact with any safety concerns and they are not requiring anyone to use sick leave if they don’t feel well (to encourage people not to come in if needed)

  60. Kyrielle*

    We are not back in yet, but we have been sent the planning for a phased return once our county/state permit it (not yet). There’s a health checklist you’re supposed to do if going in, and if you can’t answer all of them the right way you’re supposed to stay out. There will be masks provided and required, and all the usual public health advice should be followed. Cafeteria, break areas (microwave, refrigerator, coffee supply), and meeting rooms will be closed and off-limits.

  61. Daisy Avalin*

    I work in essential retail (UK) so have been in all along. We have a plexiglass shield on the main till, with plenty of hand sanitiser/gloves and an alarm to remind us to wash our hands every twenty minutes. Markings on the floors to ensure distancing, and lots of signs around reiterating that for everyone’s safety to stay 6ft apart and use a one-way system around the shop.
    Overnight (my shifts) is when we do deeper cleaning/sanitising, whilst day cashiers wipe down the till areas/pin pads/coffee vending machine as often as they can.

    OH is furloughed currently, although he was working from home initially. We are waiting to hear what is happening re his going back to work, but as he works in a call centre we’re hoping he’ll be able to work from home again. Especially since he travels to work by bus, and therefore would increase any possible risk to him/us and his colleagues.

    Masks are now mandatory on public transport here, and I’ll see how that works when I go grocery shopping tomorrow.

  62. Casual Librarian*

    Our workplace has hung shower curtains in between desks in our open-concept office. It’s not awesome, but it works

      1. Casual Librarian*

        They’re not really touched. Since we have low-walled cubes, they are hung up from the ceiling to reach the top of that wall. So in their mind, it’s similar to a plexiglass divider if that makes sense.

    1. Ranon*

      The shower curtain solution worries me so much from a fire standpoint, offices are really not meant to have plastic sheets hanging in the air unless they’re specifically fire treated.

  63. Campfire Raccoon*

    Somewhat off topic: I buy a LOT of hand sanitizer for our company, but most of what I can get my hands on is being made by local breweries and distilleries. Inevitably, the sanitizer smells like whatever alcohol they produced pre-pandemic.

    I find this highly amusing.

    1. not that kind of Doctor*

      That makes me MORE interested in buying sanitizer from our local distilleries… :)

    2. MAGC*

      We bought hand sanitizer from a local distillery, and I think it smells _awesome_ — MUCH better than the isopropyl alcohol versions!

    3. cncx*

      the main grocery store chain where i live is using hand sanitzer at the entrance that smells like cheap gin. if they make me use theirs when i walk in i have to do a do-over with my own just to get the gin smell off

      I have bad skin allergies so i react poorly to provided hand sanitizer and use my own when i can

  64. Anonager*

    I’m a manager in a manufacturing plant, and we’re located near a hot spot that got some national attention. We had 23 confirmed cases in our plant in spite of our efforts, but they have dropped to zero for about a month now. Fortunately everyone has recovered or is recovering. As much as I despise masks, it does seem like the cases dropped off sharply after we made masks mandatory for all employees at all times. We didn’t require them at first because of the excessive heat in our facility and because we had a lot of social distancing measures in place. I’ve been really proud of our efforts and of the company’s “cost be damned” approach to keeping people safe. Here’s what we’re doing:
    – Business travel is suspended and only essential visitors are allowed onsite
    – Employees with the ability to work from home are doing so full-time and most managers are working from home at least part of the week
    – High risk employees were given the option to go on short term disability (100% paid by company – we have a great STD policy)
    – Employees and visitors have their temperatures taken by contracted nurses upon arrival, then head straight to a hand-washing station
    – Masks are required for all employees at all times, except when working completely alone (in an enclosed office)
    – When the mask supply chain loosened up, we obtained a supply of KN-95s for employees to use optionally
    – Chairs were removed from the employee break room to limit room capacity
    – Most meetings went virtual and conference rooms are being used as additional break room space
    – Meetings that can’t be moved to a virtual platform take place in a large, open space so people can spread out
    – Hand sanitizers, disinfectant spray, and paper towels are provided in every work cell and throughout the building for use as needed, including break rooms
    – All common touch points on production lines and in shared spaces are sanitized once per shift at minimum. Compliance is monitored via a weekly audit by management.
    – Production associates were provided noise canceling headsets with microphones to allow for communication while maintaining social distancing
    – The floor was taped off to reinforce social distancing in high-traffic areas
    – Hourly employees are clocked in and out automatically based on their shift schedules to avoid crowding at the time clocks, and to eliminate the time clocks as a touch point
    – Work cells that didn’t allow for social distancing were re-engineered to separate employees, and physical barriers were installed
    – Food provided by the company is individually wrapped vs. shared (boxed lunches vs. shared pizza)
    – We suspended the use of refillable water bottles and coffee mugs and moved to single-use bottles/cups
    – Anyone with symptoms or recent contact with an infected person is quarantined at home for 14 days, paid by the company
    – The use of fans is prohibited throughout the facility (air currents cause the virus to travel further). The company is upgrading the HVAC system to offset the increased heat/discomfort caused by the use of masks and the lack of air flow.
    – Employees were given a pack of disinfectant wipes and 2 miniature bottles of hand sanitizer for use when they leave work to prevent the spread of illness to their homes
    – We completely closed the plant (stopped production) twice for a few days when we had a lot of infections to allow people time away from one another, and we brought in a professional sanitization crew to “bomb” the entire building while no one was here
    – We purchased a medical-grade sanitization machine that “fogs” specific areas to kill germs (we use it on the production lines)
    – Management is in constant contact with employees about the number of cases in the facility, the HVAC improvements, tips like proper handwashing techniques and staying healthy outside of work, etc. On two separate occasions, every employee received a personal phone call from their manager with detailed updates.

    I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but hopefully this will spark ideas for others.

  65. QuinleyThorne*

    State-level public servant. Offices are closed to the public, and a majority of staff are working from home. I was given the option to take my work desktop to work from home, but it ended up not being feasible due to a combination of not being able to perform my regular job duties, our cramped apartment, and the fact that several of our outlets stopped working just before the shut down, and our complex halted all nonessential maintenance afterword (we did try to get it fixed, but it ended up being a nonstarter because we were still able to plug in our essentials). So I’ve been coming into the office since mid-March. I live really close by, so it’s not near an inconvenience as it would be otherwise.

    The agency’s response to this has been incredibly well thought out and organized, and they’ve made it a point to make sure the employees in the offices and out in the field have what supplies they need to feel safe (honestly I personally feel like we’ve taken it more seriously than our own governor). The office I work out of normally has about 30+ people in it at any given time, but since March I’ve been one of 8 people in the office every day, and we all have our own offices/cubicles that give us ample room to distance (I literally can’t see anyone from my desk). I wear a mask every time I step out of our office space, and wash my hands as soon as I step back in. Our office is located in a medical building, so mask compliance is a non-issue.
    Up until last week, our agency had only 1 covid case. Then one of our agents started showing symptoms this past weekend, and since he’d stopped by the office for an hour during the week, we had to get the office fogged twice before anyone could come back. While that’s the closest shave we’ve had so far, I work out of the Houston office, and the coronavirus situation here is starting to spiral; there’s rumblings that we may have to do a city-wide shut down again to try and contain it (you know, after the governor reopened everything in May.). Given that our agents are part of the enforcement effort to make sure business are complying with health protocols, it’s a near guarantee that this happens again, which has me a bit uh. squirrely.

  66. WeeFee*

    I work for an internet service provider in New York. While we’re considered essential we cancelled all non-critical onsite work and have been WFH from mid-March until our area entered “phase one”. This week has been our first week back at a relatively normal workload. All non-field employees are WFH and will stay that way until at least the end of 2020.

    To protect employees that work in the field we’re requiring weekly COVID testing and a daily health screening survey that goes to HR. To protect privacy HR just tells us if an employee is clear to work or not, no details on survey responses or test results. We are also providing and requiring masks in any of our facilities, vehicles or work sites. Gloves are available but not required. Hand sanitizer and wipes are freely available and everyone is expected to wipe down their vehicle and equipment at the start and end of shift. We have a cleaning company come through between every shift (we run two shifts). We also staggered shifts to reduce the number of people in our warehouse at a time.

    Anyone who can work from home is being required to do so; you can only go on site if you have to to complete the work and you are expected to leave as soon as you’re done. Any employees who are getting tested regularly are also given time during their work day to get it done.

    It’s been an adjustment for sure, especially culturally because we had a very strong in-office culture before this. I think that we’ve done everything we can to make everyone safe. I personally worked on a lot of the policies so happy to talk more about the thought process behind everything if anyone is interested.

  67. Mama Bear*

    My office never closed. We’re doing alright. We had one case and no community spread. Things we are doing include liberal WFH (and people recently pushed back on the notion that we need to all come back because a lot of people have situations where getting sick would be a Big Deal) to limit the # of people, more PTO if you can’t WFH, masks, one way stairs, occupancy limits on elevators and restrooms, limited use of conference rooms, video conferencing whenever applicable, frequent cleaning of high-touch areas….I think that we are doing OK but I am a little worried about the lack of childcare (no daycare or camp is running at full capacity currently) and the push to get everyone back in their seats.

    For myself I have my own Keurig and I bring a gallon of water from home. I don’t do much take out. I’ve even brought my own utensils and napkins to avoid the open drawer in the kitchen. I have an office to myself which I rarely leave. I wear a mask. I wipe down surfaces (like my desk and car).

  68. Hazy Days*

    Returning to working on campus has been wonderful for my mental health, and I think others have found the same. I pushed for mental health to be included in our risk assessments, and for the mental and physical risks of working from home to be considered in our risk assessments too (I wrote a draft so our HSE Officer was able to add it in with little effort.)
    We had a core team of key workers on campus throughout, keeping our residents safe. We had some Senior Leadership on campus throughout, making it clear that they were well, working, and setting a calm, confident tone. We are now returning people to work in a staggered manner, so that people can get their head round the situation, see good practice, etc.
    Our residents seem delighted to see more people back – a couple saw me and said “it feels like there’s some hope to see you here.”
    One issue we have – we have many individual offices, and the policy is you don’t go inside someone else’s office unless you really to – instead, you stand in the doorway. The result is a lot of shouting semi-confidential information through an open door. That’s okay at the moment as we are quiet, but it’s not a medium-term solution.

  69. Sasha "Potato Girl" Blause*

    I’ll have to start going back in a couple weeks, but at least my employer has agreed that my officemate and I need to have an alternating schedule.

    I plan to keep the office door shut and wear a painting respirator (which I’d already had for several years because of hobby reasons). I know those don’t do as much to protect others, but I’m in the USA so people believe in everyone-for-themselves. Almost nobody wears masks because it’s not required and because most people have a “your health is not my problem, take personal responsibility, stop being entitled” attitude. So I’ll wear the damn painting respirator even though it’ll make me look like a drama queen. I doubt my employer will do anything about virus particles traveling through recirculated air, so I’ll have to act as if I’m constantly surrounded by people breathing on me.

    I’m lucky enough to have a garage, so I can put a laundry basket in there and undress before going inside to shower, and can put some hand sanitizer there so I can safely open doors and touch the shower knob.

    With having to do the coming-home rituals so slowly and attentively to avoid contamination, plus wasting 1.5 hours in the car every day, I’ll probably have to nearly eliminate all non-chore hobbies to make sure I get enough sleep to fight off illness. Yay.

  70. anonvermonter*

    I haven’t been too thrilled with the speed on my company’s COVID response, but based on the rest of the comments here they seem to be doing (comparatively) ok. We have stayed open the entire time, taking the following steps:
    * Vermont OSHA required all essential workers to sit through a (remote) safety presentation on COVID-19 with info on how to report if safety steps like social distancing, shut down non-essential shared spaces (like lunch rooms), not wearing masks were not taken
    * Mandatory temp checks and health questions every day
    * WFH when possible (now. it took a shockingly long time for IT to get this set up across the company). However, as we are in a remote area, you can work in the office if you don’t have fast internet etc. (I have been WFH since mid-March, so I only know the rest of the steps from internal communications and talking with coworkers)
    * Some flexed start/stop times to make sure the temp check stations aren’t overrun all at once
    * Masks required if more than one person is in the room
    * Remote meetings by default
    * Increased cleaning of high traffic area every 2 hours (things like time clocks etc)

  71. Lolly & the Adverbs*

    We’re good because our small team has individual offices. We’re not so good because the majority of the workforce is 50+ and won’t embrace current technology. Things that could easily be solved by email, chat, whatever, happen in person, in close proximity. Everyone wears their mask, but you still have to get close because everything is done on paper.
    I was going to save this question for Friday, but since the topic came up, I’ll ask it now…A close family member of one of our coworkers died last week of covid. The coworker had not been around this family member in some time, so there’s no chance of infection at this point. The funeral will take place in the near future. I have overheard coworker making arrangements and saying that it will be open casket (coworker talks so loudly that conversations can be heard through closed doors).
    Is this something to be concerned about? Coworker will be attending funeral and then possibly coming back to work the next day. The advice of what’s safe and what’s not changes from day to day, so I don’t know if I should bring this to the attention of management.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Being that the virus is only contagious via droplets in the air I don’t think there is risk from the body. Embalming and such takes that away. I would be more cautious about the funeral itself, as there will be more than 10 people gathered, I assume.

  72. BasicWitch*

    On the doctor’s note issue, one tip I heard was to ask them to write in your chart that you requested documentation of your immune compromised status, and to also note that this request was denied along the doctor’s rationale for declining to provide it. Doctors aren’t likely to want to leave that kind of note in your chart and may suddenly have a change of heart.

  73. a good mouse*

    My office was asking for opinions on STARTING hot desking when we come back, if we’re given the option to work from home sometimes. If I were coming in 1-2 days a week, I would definitely not feel comfortable hot desking with others, not knowing how well things had been cleaned. It just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

  74. Now In the Job*

    I’m on the team that’s doing some of the heavy lifting on the “preparing to return to work” front. I feel like my company is doing a lot, but I am also completely terrified of going back anytime soon. They want everyone who has a private office back in, and everyone in open office spaces on an alternating schedule (2 weeks in, 2 weeks work from home) so the offices are at just over half capacity. I’m just so uncomfortable with all of this because of traffic flows, elevators, stairs, and, most honestly, the commute. I have to take a bus to a train and I have zero faith in people these days to remain safe. My husband is an essential worker and has been out and about this whole time, so I also am not a fan of bringing exponentially more risk factors into the household. As of yet, we haven’t made decisions about what to do for commuters. :(

    Otherwise, my company has fully paid for and made a lot of resources available: gloves, masks, sanitation supplies, antibody testing, viral testing, enormous super fancy air filters in the office, possibly requiring us all to download a contact tracing app on our phones, mandatory masks, one-way hallways, decreased elevator capacity, temperature cameras in our larger office, self-screening at home…our CEO is really keen to get butts back in seats and has put literally millions of dollars out there to do it. I’m less than enthused.

  75. I'm just here for the cats*

    Funny enough last week my mom had to go back to the office as. They had stoped WFH option. Yesterday she gets told that she is to WFH. We don’t know if it’s because there’s been an increase in out city or what. She doesn’t think anyone else has gone back to WFH. I think it’s because she has a chronic cough (COPD/ Chronic Bronchitis) and yesterday was a bad day for her. Her boss asked if the cough was “something new”. She explained it’s not and then at the end of the day told to take her stuff to start WFH.
    Shes totaly fine with it because there are people in the office who aren’t taking this seriously and don’t respect the boundaries.

  76. Julia*

    I’m glad that second commenter found a way to manage their anxiety, but I don’t think they should be providing those tips as advice to others. It’s overkill unless you have the same sort of severe anxiety issues that commenter has, or are caring for someone immunocompromised. Putting tape down around your office? Fighting “as hard as you can” to avoid meetings *altogether*? Unnecessary. IMO, it’s enough to ensure we are being mindful of older and immunocompromised people by wearing masks, keeping groups of people small, and keeping our distance in public. Any more than that verges on unnecessary panic.

    1. Amtelope*

      I’m not sure these precautions sound unreasonable. We have a cubicle setup, and in the before times, people typically approached one another’s desks (closer than six feet) to talk; if I didn’t have an office with a door, I’d seriously think about a tape mark/footprints on the floor to mark “six feet from me is here!” And in-person meetings often involve having multiple people in a small, enclosed area for lengthy periods of time, not a great situation. I would be okay with small group meeting briefly while remaining six feet apart, or with meetings outside (we have picnic tables that could probably be pressed into service, and I know we have folding chairs stashed somewhere), but otherwise I’d strongly prefer to meet virtually.

    2. Gamer Girl*

      Eh, I think you really can’t be too careful. I’ve discovered that a lot of people are really bad at estimating what a 2m distance is and also that they are constantly touching their face!

      1. virago*

        “I’ve discovered that a lot of people are really bad at estimating what a 2m distance is.”

        I’m one of those people. The tape marks on the floor at the grocery store have been invaluable to me and important in protecting the health of the people who work there.

        As far as Julia’s comment that these measures are overkill … I think there are a lot of people like me who don’t grasp distances very well. And at least at my company*, the spaces set aside for meetings are all small, so you’d either have to have equally small meetings or go to Zoom — which, frankly, keeps meetings shorter, too.

        *My company is WFH as much as possible for the foreseeable future. This is just a theoretical scenario.

  77. Temporarily Anonymous*

    My workplace was way too slow to start but they have now gotten a lot done. We are a non-medical essential service so we remained open with most people working from home and only a few in the office. Now we are all being directed to return to the workplace effective next week. Here are some of our safety measures for when everyone comes back (some complete & some being worked on):
    ●Limited access to the building (only for certain reasons) and # limit of people allowed in building at a time. Security enforces this & also makes sure people waiting outside maintain distance.
    ●Limit in # of people allowed in public rooms at a time. Enforced by security.
    ●Screening questions at entrance & anyone who “fails” cannot come in (does not apply to employee entrance)
    ●Signage and floor tape directing traffic flow in public areas
    ●Multiple cleaners working through the work day sanitizing high touch surfaces
    ●Face masks permitted for public and no requirement to remove at entrance screening
    ●Paper face masks provided to employees if they want to use them (but not required). We can also bring our own masks.
    ●Hand sanitizer available in both public & staff areas
    ●All water fountains closed
    ●Sanitizing spray & jcloths available to staff for wiping down surfaces the cleaners don’t touch (anything on desks, office equipment, cabinets)
    ●One-way lanes to reduce traffic in some parts of the office
    ●Some plexiglass shields for areas where distance can’t be maintained
    ●Gloves (non-latex to avoid allergy issues) available if staff want to use them
    ●No access to shared dishes in breakroom
    ●”Gym rules” for office equipment and break room (clean before & after each use)
    ●Employees encouraged (though not ordered) to clean desk surfaces & equipment 2X daily
    ●Some employees moved to different areas if desk spaces can’t be made safe
    ●Sitting areas have reduced # of chairs and chairs are spaced apart
    ●Employees are encouraged to self-monitor
    ●Employers have stated that repeat “distancing” offenders will be disciplined including being sent home (though mostly we are just supposed to remind each other and I’m not sure if they would actually do more than talk to the offender irl)
    ●Employees are encouraged to be “careful” and try to maintain distancing when moving throughout building
    ●Employees in some of the more crowded areas are encouraged to use alternate locations in the building for some work (sometimes a possibility) and avoid being at their desks if possible

  78. Jaid*

    Well, I just got news that I’ll probably get called back 7/13.

    “FMSS should be cleaning all buildings before any employees report back along with ensuring adequate hand sanitizer, a supply of disposable masks (although you are encouraged to wear your own); disinfectant wipes and other cleaning products. Signage is being added to buildings limiting the number of people in breakrooms and on elevators, encouraging distancing and reminding employees to stay home if they are not feeling well.”

    I’m bringing a portable steamer for cleaning, bento thermos jars for meals so I can avoid the breakroom, and a tension rod/shower curtain liner to create a barrier for my cubicle entrance.

    However, my temp can be 97.4 in the morning and go up to 99 later in the day if it’s too hot in the office (not C19 related, I got tested. It’s probably hormonal, yay.). I always keep a fan on, so I’m concerned that I may be told to turn it off

  79. Amtelope*

    Most of us are still working from home. We’ve been told we can now go into the office if we specifically need to, and several of us went in this week for a series of lengthy video calls. We worked in separate offices with closed doors (it’s a large building), and wore masks when we left our offices. The building has hand sanitizer dispensers and signs requiring mask use.

    I don’t know when we’re going “back to work,” or if we’ll be back in the office full-time in the foreseeable future. We’ve been told that management will make decisions over the next weeks/months.

  80. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

    I’m really appreciated my job right now. I’m in an academic library and we have a bunch of different branch libraries (it’s a scattered urban college), and pre-covid I was in one of the”biggest” libraries, with 5 FT staff and 2 part time staff. They started us working entirely from home mid march, and they’re just now talking about doing a slow, phased reopening starting in July
    –only one staff member will be in at a time
    –In the first phase, the library won’t be open to the public, but students will be able to return books
    –Returned books will be quarantined for 48 hours and/or wiped down
    –Wipes, disinfecting spray, masks, plexi-glass barriers, and gloves have been ordered
    –one the library begins opening to the public, there will be a cap on how many patrons can be in the library at a time, and for how long. Most computers and study carrels will be blocked off to enforce social distancing
    –Librarians will wipe/spray computers after use
    –Everyone entering the library must have a mask; we can deny them entrance if they don’t
    –The library director was extremely emphatic that the safety of the staff is the most important thing

  81. Lils*

    Asking for a friend: what are the best practices about notifying employees that a colleague has tested positive? My friend has received two announcements that colleagues tested positive, but no indication of whether she was exposed. The employer can’t say the name of the person who tested positive because of HIPAA, but my friend wants to know if she was in a shared space with the infected person and was therefore possibly exposed. What is fair in this circumstance?

  82. Lady Heather*

    Not from my own workplace, but a place I go to gives you a cotton swap (biodegradable, even!) to enter your PIN with. The cashier gives you the swab touching the A-side, you take the B-side, and then holding the B-side you touch the A-side to the buttons on the machine. (So there isn’t even the candybowl-esque transmission risk of grabbing your own swab from a box that others have grabbed their swabs from.)

    It’s one of those easy solutions that totally bypass the microbial hub that is a number pad.

  83. Gamer Girl*

    Things that I’ve found can be helpful for communicating with masks and through plexiglass barriers

    -a clearly written sign (I need X TPS report). (To keep it green, you can use scrap paper or write it on a phone screen in large, bold font)

    -and/or finger spelling (ASL) a key word here and there. (Even if the other person doesn’t know much ASL, many of the letters are fairly recognizable, and I’ve found that it gives people something to connect the message with the muffled Charlie Brown wha-wha-wha effect of mask-speaking!)

  84. Terrifiedandoutraged*

    We had WFH as an option only for April, and only in shifts with time in office increasing each week. As of the first week of May, everyone was required to be back in the office full-time. One employee no longer works here — it’s unclear if he quit or was fired.

    Wearing masks and social distancing hasn’t been required or encouraged. We were told that since those are “recommendations”, we’re also not allowed to say anything negative to anyone about their choices. I’m currently the only employee in the company who wears a mask, which I know is pretty futile. When we first started, we were at least suggested to wipe down our desks nightly but I’m also the only one doing that now… and I’ve been teased about it.

    The first week of June they did install Plexiglas dividers for the cubicles.

    Anyone out there hiring?

  85. FlyingFrenchFry*

    I work in an animal research facility so we already had a lot of the PPE requirements in place already, we just became even more stringent (at least we were told to, whether or not people are adhering to the rules is another problem). We now wear masks everywhere, not just by the animals, wear faceshields in all animal buildings, change shoecovers immediately outside of enclosures, etc. We all got fit-tested for N-95s in case we ran out of regular masks but luckily we’ve managed to squeak by by reusing them for way too long.
    There was an effort to reduce the number of people onsite, though obviously we could never close. My department was particularly half-hearted about that, however, so the most that happened is we get to leave a little earlier some days, but everyone is still coming in every day. We did get an allowance of time to be used if we got sick, thought we were exposed, or had to deal with childcare.
    It’s been tricky since our work and facility is not set up for distancing (we share vehicles and have a crowded break room, etc.), and some people haven’t been quarantining very hard (still out getting their hair done or having parties with their friends). So far we’ve been lucky and haven’t had any cases, which is especially important because if any of the animals got COVID it would be devastating to the population.
    It’s just a weird contradiction where the higher-ups acknowledge how serious this is to our work but don’t institute any real policies outside of wearing masks more.

  86. designbot*

    * We’re allowing working from home as a permanent part-time option. Based on an employee survey, most people only want to be in the office 2 days a week when we’re *not* in the middle of a pandemic anyway.
    * We’ve reduced the number of desks in our office by 60% (we sent them home with anyone who wanted them!), and respaced them. You now book a desk before coming to the office, and there is only room for so many people.
    *The biggest thing is that returning is now an opt-in, not an opt-out. I’m not comfortable yet, so I won’t be going back on a regular basis til things have calmed down more.
    * With hotelling we’re no longer keeping anything individual at desks. We each get lockers, and we have our own keyboard and mouse in our locker, so high-touch items aren’t shared anymore.
    * Likewise, we each get our own mug labeled with our names for coffee, so no sharing. No more other dishes, we’re expected to pack in and out our own lunch containers and silverware.
    * No more eating at desks
    * Temperature checks at the door, if your temp is high you’re sent home
    * face coverings required, office is providing one (not that we don’t all have an array of them already, but it’s a nice thought)
    *Travel and in-person meeting attendance is currently restricted. We usually try to be inclusive but now more senior people are taking on the risk to shield the more junior people, and of course avoiding in person meetings where possible.

  87. Zanele Ngwenya*

    I have a question maybe someone can help with. My husband works at a university lab, so he’s been essential this whole time. He is the only one in his lab who wears a mask. Even though the lead PI has on multiple occasions said they are to wear masks, they themselves have not been in the lab since this started since they are higher risk. My husband (also the only non-white employee in the lab, which feels relevant based on other interactions he’s had there), has requested to the PI to enforce mask wearing (now a university-wide rule), but they haven’t beyond telling people to wear masks (they don’t). What else can be done or how should he phrase his requests? He doesn’t like putting our family or himself at risk. Those who work in this field of research are usually pretty conservative politically, which we guess to be why they don’t want to wear masks, as I doubt ALL of them have breathing issues that would be requiring an accommodation.

    1. virago*

      I’m sorry that your husband is having to go through this, and I wish I knew *anything* about lab work so I could provide you with useful information.

      I hope you get helpful suggestions! If you don’t, though, I suggest posting your question to Alison as a separate question on its own. Because I think your husband’s situation is uniquely sensitive and deserves more attention, as he is the only person of color working in this setting and trying to ensure that a life-or-death rule is enforced.

      I wish your family the best.

      1. Zanele Ngwenya*

        Thank you. There were some new emails yesterday campus-wide stating the policy, so hopefully that helps.

  88. Mieki60*

    I work for a non profit in Seattle and they have been great. Everyone is working from home and they’ve provided any equipment you need to do that, including chairs, extra monitors, etc. The current plan is to return to the office in September, but that is very flexible. They may extend the WFH time, but regardless, if you don’t feel safe going in, they will allow you to continue to WFH. It’s been great that they’re truly thinking or our well being.

  89. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    My company has been fairly thoughtful about this. They started planning in February how we could work from home, and started planning in May how we could come back to the office.

    As of last week, we’re allowed to work in the office again, with restrictions. Most of them are the sort people have already mentioned above: masks when you’re not at your desk, one-way hallways where applicable, temperature checks when entering the building. All meetings must be done over Zoom – face-to-face meetings of any size (even just two people huddled at the same desk) are explicitly Not Allowed. We’ve added lots of hand sanitizer stations. The first person in the building is expected to turn on all lights in public areas, and the last person to leave turns off all the lights in public areas. High-touch surfaces (counters, door handles, light switches, etc.) are cleaned mid-morning and mid-afternoon (it’s my understanding there is a rotation for this).

    But the big thing I haven’t seen in many other plans is that we are only allowed to work in the office Mon-Thurs. On Fri-Sat-Sun the building is to be left empty so anything still alive on surfaces can die off.

    And right now, being in the office is strictly voluntary. My manager has asked us to let her know if we’re planning on going in, but she’s a big proponent of WFH anyway and isn’t going to push us to go back sooner than we have to. We don’t have a planned date to return, although another manager suggested waiting until it was safe to hold face-to-face meetings again. (Which makes a lot of sense to me – that’s the one thing we can’t do at home, and if we can’t do it in the office either there’s no benefit to making us all be there.)

  90. arkangel*

    I’m the only one in my group working in the office, which I’m fine with. HR made sure I’m okay with things, which I appreciate!

    I live alone so I don’t have to worry about catching the virus from anyone at home.

    I have the office area to myself

    I wear a mask any time I’m away from my desk.

    I clean daily.

    I sanitize my hands constantly.

    I avoid all other departments.

    I also have my manager’s permission to eat lunch in the office so I can avoid the cafeteria – that wasn’t terribly well kept before, so there’s no way I’m going in there now.

    I make sure I don’t need to refrigerate my lunch or use the microwave.

  91. pets love wfh*

    My workplace is the one selling the office furniture, so they want the people back in the offices. Ours has reopened and is almost to phase 2. 50% capacity, sign up in advance via a calendar, cubicles are already well spaced, but distancing modifications are on order. Shared spaces are reduced in seating and capacity, and cleaning supplies are readily available. What bothers me is what is not said: we are not encouraged to keep wfh, and the permanent plan is that everybody will be back in the offices with an occasional wfh policy. So while there is capacity, it does not tell me if I should be coming to the office. I would also like to note that we were deployed very hesitantly, with poor/old and incomplete (think no mic or video capabilities) tech, some people even using their personal computers. I was told there is no plan to upgrade as they want us back in the office on our desktop computers.

  92. Kate Hall*

    We created an online training for staff. Here’s the link to it: We also have masks, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer individually for each staff member. We have gloves for all staff and face shields for any staff that want them. As the executive director of a public library I feel it is my duty to ensure I am doing everything in my power to make sure staff are safe. We are not yet open to the public but will be within the next month and I want to make sure we have strong processes in place so that staff don’t have to interact unnecessarily with anyone.

  93. MissDisplaced*

    My employer has been good and we are still all WFH. Pre-Covid we had hot desking without any assigned seats. It was gross then, with people constantly snotting and coughing and I cannot imagine coming back to that. But neither do I want to “create my base” in a wide open office where you can’t put things away because there are no drawers or anything. Ugh! Open Office Nightmares!

    I think I’ll just try to stay WFH and if they don’t like it I guess I’ll get fired.

  94. AndThenTheresMaude*

    I have been going in to work at a rehabilitation hospital, which is kind of great because they have taken Covid precautions very, very seriously. They’ve separated staff entrances from public entrances, and initially everyone was getting their temperatures taken along with filling out a Fit For Work declaration. Now we just have to fill out an online declaration and check in at our unit. Just this week they have allowed 2 pre-approved visitors to visit patients, which is great, as there was a no-visitor policy for several weeks. All visitors and out-patients (and in-patients going places) must all wear masks, and clinicians and anyone in close contact with patients have been masking up for weeks. PPE is available but they are rationing the alcohol-based cleaning wipes since people were going to town with wiping down EVERYTHING. Wash your hands and try and avoid close contact everybody! So far no cases of Covid in my facility, and fingers crossed it stays that way.
    On the other hand, a friend of mine quit her job at a local gym because management had done very little to prepare for re-opening i.e. no extra staff for cleaning, not moving equipment, not buying PPE supplies. So some businesses just still aren’t getting it…until the local health authorities shut them down.

  95. IndyDem*

    First off, thank all of you for sharing, it’s really helpful and interesting hearing the different plans. I work for a large biotech, with staff and/or offices in every state in the continental US. They have split employees into 4 basic groups –
    Group 1 : Manufacturing and R&D – considered essential and have been on-site this whole time. Staggered shifts, lots of PPE, and many allowances for employees who contract COVID as well as are or live with vulnerable individuals. Also, if any of their job can be done at home, come in for what can’t, go home ASAP.
    Group 2: Office staff whose main functions cannot be done WFH. Are still WFH now, will be allowed back into office once 3 criteria has been met – Government (state and local) allow it, Science shows it’s safe (basically analysis of infection rate, positive testing in area, etc), and Safety – company has been able to put into place procedures and equipment (including PPE) to main social distancing (moving desks in open environment so physical distancing can be done).
    Group 3: Field staff – again all 3 criteria apply – Government, Science, and Safety. Additionally PPE is being shipped to individual’s houses (masks and hand sanitizer at first – month and a half supply – enough masks to use 2 masks per day). Field visits are allowed, but electronic communication, including Zoom is preferred.
    Group 4: Office staff who can work from home. No plans to return to office anytime soon. Great-grand boss said that she would be surprised if we return before 2021.

    1. Utinni*

      It sounds like you’re organization is doing a great job minimizing the risks to employees. I’m beyond jealous.

  96. Utinni*

    I’m about to quit my job because I don’t feel safe. We closed entirely for 2 weeks in March due to the first leg of the stay at home order but since then, more and more people have been coming in. At the start of June, everyone was asked to return but my team has been doing only 3 days/week. I was ok with that. However, cases are spiking in my city AND we had someone at work test positive and yet we’re all still expected to come in. In a couple of weeks, all of us desk workers who successfully worked from home for months will be required to be in the building 100% of the time. People have to wear masks in hallways and if you’re within 6 ft of people but that’s about it-and for some reason, people take off their masks when they get into meetings. I’m young and low risk but I can’t deal with their inflexibility on remote work during a genuine crisis. Our local health officials have said we have community spread happening and to be really careful and yet remote work isn’t ok. I’m heartbroken to leave what’s otherwise been an excellent job.

  97. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

    Essential, front lines. I have never been able to stop working, aside from the two weeks I was force quarantined even though I wasn’t sick because my (also front line) roommate got covid. We’re all wearing masks (as are our patients because it’s mandated in my state), wiping surfaces all the time, washing hands, and using hand sanitizer. I’m also taking my scrubs off (wearing a tank top and shorts underneath) before I even get into my car and putting them into a specific bag so I don’t risk spread that way. And showering as soon as I get home.

    I wish I had anything other than anger right now listening to people whine and complain about having to go back to work when I and countless others never had the privilege to protect ourselves in the first place.

    1. Amtelope*

      I have the greatest respect and appreciation for people who’ve been working essential front-line jobs. But surely it doesn’t help matters for people who don’t need to be in the office to be forced to return? The more people who get sick from returning to offices that could continue to work remotely, the more virus will be circulating, and the greater the danger to people on the front lines.

  98. Essential Worker*

    We’ve been at minimal staffing for months. Most of our employees are home on paid administrative leave–internet is almost non-existent here, so telework is only possible for those at the very top (like myself) who get it provided by the office. However, some functions are essential–those who must come in do so for the shortest amount of time possible, while working one to a room, with masks on. (Even though I can telework, even my essential duties involve interfacing with customers on occasion, so I’m the one at the office most.) Any deviation from these requirements requires approval from our big boss.

    I’m really glad my bosses have taken this so seriously. These rules have been a pain in the ass (esp. when for awhile it looked like the local government had caught and quarantined all cases), but with a new resurgence of cases I’m glad we’re protecting ourselves.

  99. Wrench Turner*

    My coworkers and I just assume we’ll get it at some point. If/when we do, I have no faith the company will do any contact tracing with places we’ve been. We work in customers’ homes and they are awful about masks, at minimum. It’s up to us to enforce it and if we piss them off we’ll get bad reviews and be fired. So there you go. I wear one even though I have asthma and I’m doing hard manual labor in difficult conditions. It sucks. It just sucks.

  100. calonkat*

    The comment about setting up your cubicle as your base makes me think of a product that thinkgeek used to sell, an alarm that went off when someone crossed your cubicle threshold. Wish I’d bought one then!

  101. JustaTech*

    Late to the game, but here goes:
    I am very, very lucky that not only has my company sent everyone who can WFH, home, but we are all very fortunate in that our company makes a medical treatment, so the folks who do have to come in are already wearing more PPE than needed for COVID. It also means that everyone on my floor is used to wearing gloves and handwashing regularly and not touching their faces (in the lab, out of the lab is different).
    And we just renovated so while my cube no longer has walls (boo), it is much farther away from the next cube-pod than it used to be, and the hallway is much, much wider.

    As far as going back to work, generally everyone is taking it slowly. Currently at my site it’s “only people in the lab and facilities groups, only when you actually need to physically be in the building, mask everywhere except if you have your own office”, and we have seas of hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes, not to mention all the usual stuff to clean the labs (ispropanol and some really nasty stuff).

    So far the 3 times I’ve been back in to do stuff I haven’t had to work with anyone else, so it hasn’t been too stressful. I am going to go in on Monday to do an experiment that requires standing right next to two of my coworkers for a couple of hours, so in addition to the mask/gloves/glasses/lab coat, I’m going to turn on some extra HVAC for more (clean) air circulation and ask both my coworkers to be willing to let me step away if it starts to stress me out (mostly so I don’t snap at them).

    And that’s how it’s going to be for a very long time.

  102. Deborah*

    That first comment in the OP is from me. I’ve been in the office all this week, and because I don’t trust my co-workers, and a few of them are still not wearing masks, I have been going out to my car to eat lunch. Salads work great for that. We can’t hold on to silverware in the office (seriously, it disappears, I don’t know if people toss it like plastic or steal it or there’s a mountain in someone’s desk drawer or what), so months ago I purchased five packs of silverware intended for camping or picnics, a small cloth pouch with one of everything (the main things, not a fancy place setting). So I bring a packed salad in my own dishes, my own silverware, and my own water bottle. I do put the salad in the fridge until lunch time, but when I say I don’t trust my co-workers, I mean they aren’t being responsible, they are socializing outside of work etc. I would be extremely surprised if anyone tampered intentionally with another person’s food. I wear my cloth masks all day long other than brief breaks to drink water and lunch in my car, and I wash my hands before and after touching the masks, as the official guidance says. All of my co-workers who are wearing masks take theirs off and set them casually on their desks, and then put them back on every time they need to get up from their desk, which is fairly frequent because our office is way too paper based (we send thousands of emails but print every single one of them and then pass those papers around to different people in the office). There’s one girl who mostly keeps her mask on, but pulled down below her nose when at her desk. Several people are using the same disposable paper mask day after day. It’s an open office, but with the people who quit recently, most people are spaced out in my area and they put up the plexiglass in the one section around where I sit where four of us are close together. I’m in the middle of a room where people frequently walk by also. And there’s the holdouts who refuse to wear masks and who do come through our area. No one talks about any of this, about the situation at all. It’s kind of an icy silence.

    Also they recently bought hand sanitizer that isn’t alcohol based. As far as everything I’ve read, to work hand sanitizer needs to be 60%+ alcohol. This stuff didn’t have that alcohol cold feeling so I looked at the label and it doesn’t have alcohol in it at all. Not sure if it’s effective at all.

    I went to my boss’ office (she has one) today to ask her a question. I stood in the doorway, quite a ways away, and she reached over to get her paper mask and put it on while speaking to me. It occurred to me that one could easily do this sometimes but not always depending on how long you judged the conversation would be, or even if you got distracted and forgot to put the mask on while the person was standing there, and it could become a problem if one employee felt the boss was or wasn’t masking when talking to them specifically. It seems to me that the whole subject is a brand new set of mine fields in the work place like that.

  103. team .010*

    IL here. Several of our VPs do not wear masks. They stroll by our SD cube farms , or group cluster for talks during their coffee breaks. Their faces are naked for the greater part of the day. BTW, we are essential mfgs.
    I just don’t get it.

  104. New and Scared*

    I’m honestly terrified, but I also have a (diagnosed) anxiety disorder. I just started at my local government health department, working FT on-site at a public health clinic. There is no WFH option at this time. I am white, majority of my coworkers are black, and was warned by my mentor upon starting that many coworkers have lost people to the virus and not to “push it” (my desire to WFH).

    I work in a cubicle that is in the back of a railroad of cubicles. In the room I’m in, I’m the only one person who wears their mask at their desk, but there are cubicle wall barriers. IT and cleaning staff are routinely within less than 6 feet. Cleaning staff wear masks covering mouth but not nose. I am being supplied with medical grade masks (1 per week), disinfecting spray, purell, and gloves.

    This past week was the first time in months I’ve been around so many people and it scares the sh*t out of me. I asked my supervisor to confirm that the mask policy is to wear a mask “at all times unless eating or drinking?” and she confirmed. I haven’t said anything about the other people in my room who don’t wear their masks AT ALL at their desks. I don’t want to be seen as a Shit Stirrer when I JUST started. My supervisor is a provider and sees patients directly; she has tried to calm me by saying I “just need to wash hands” and I’ll be fine, but I am so scared.

    Our temps are checked upon entrance to the building, along with symptom screening questions. I think people take it seriously… but it feels like they don’t take it seriously enough. People not wearing masks at desks or properly (just mouth) is driving me crazy. I’ve only been there a week.

  105. Juno*

    I work at a sit down restaurant that recently reopened and the majority of what we’re doing is just following state guidelines (eg. lowered capacity, tables at least six feet apart, frequent sanitation by assigned staff members, all wearing masks and gloves). Thankfully both local management and corporate focus very strongly on following safety guidelines which is comforting. (Team meetings and website materials for staff have focused on the importance of following the safety procedures, which is so much better than the horror stories I’ve heard about other places that pay lip services to safety but don’t require mask use at all times.) They gave us company provided masks if we want to use them, though I don’t use mine (instead I use a homemade one) because the fabric is a little thick to talk through. In terms of company specific policies: for a while we weren’t allowed to handle cash (now we are, but we’re told to strongly encourage customers to use something that’s not cash), the pens that we provide guests are sanitized between uses, we’re using small plates instead of clipboards because plates can easily be sanitized, we’re not serving anything on dishes that are hard to sanitize (ie. can’t go through the dishwashing machine), and only certain assigned people are allowed to cross from back of the house to front of the house (or vice versa) to lower chances of contamination spreading to both teams. I have mixed feelings about only certain people being allowed to go from back of the house to the front- it’s a good thought, but it’s very hard to stick to when we’re busy since a lot of stuff is kept in the back that the servers need to do our jobs. Overall in terms of policies, I feel like they’re doing as decent a job as they can while still allowing us to be open. We’ll see how things pan out in the next few months though.

Comments are closed.