How companies are safely returning to work in the office

There are a number of different approaches companies are taking to return workers to their offices. We have spoken with companies, seen firsthand how a number are planning, and done extensive research to bring you a summarized version of our findings in one place.

Specifically, this article outlines the safety procedures and steps deployed by companies to educate staff, maintain corporate culture, and keep people engaged while splitting time between WFH and in-office work.

1. Companies are asking for volunteers to return first.

There are members of the workforce for whom having an office is very helpful. These people want to work in offices and, as such, are going first.

These people might have limited space to work productively from home or have home setups (kids, home reconstruction, poor wifi, no AC, etc) that prevents them from driving productivity gains while outside of the office. It is an increasingly popular trend to see companies ask people to self-select and opt-in to heading back to the office if they so desire.

2. Companies are reducing office density

Many companies had work-stations, desks, cafeterias, micro kitchens, and meeting rooms that made sense on a square footage basis before Covid. Now, the rules have changed. Companies are hesitant to place people as closely together as they one did. This means that desks will spread out or the number of people who can enter a conference room will be limited. Reducing density is an important goal for many companies as it ensures physical and psychological safety for those workers that do return.

3. Temperature checks and good hygiene

Companies are scanning temperatures of those workers who do return to ensure physical safety aligned with CDC guidelines. In addition to temperature checks, companies are demanding that staff that are feeling physically unwell remain at home and notify their management. This ensures that disease and sickness doesn’t spread rapidly between staff which could cause either litigation or workplace safety challenges.

Many companies are also installing touchless entry systems in order to eliminate the need to make physical contact with common touchpoints for better hygiene. A keyless door entry system allows staff and authorized visitors to enter and exit both main access points and internal doors while avoiding any physical contact. This, in turn, drastically reduces the risk of viral spread. Not only do these systems improve workplace hygiene and reduce the spread of disease, but they also make for a better experience for both staff and visitors, and increase a company’s security measures.

4. Cleaning

Many companies that are returning to work are greatly ramping up their hygiene efforts to clean and maintain safe work spaces. This means hiring more cleaners or having them apply cleaning agents and disinfectants with more regularity or altering HVAC settings to enhance air-flow.

The four steps captured in this article represent different steps companies are taking to bring people back to the office in ways that are safe, scalable, and helpful for workers. Our strong intuition is that many companies are helping staff get vaccinated as well – all in an effort to accelerate a return to office openings. 

As companies experiment with new perks, benefits, and health procedures to bring staff back we will update this posting with additional learnings and data.



Kevin is a WFH veteran. He has spent the better half of the past decade traveling the world while working remotely. Kevin has recently settled down and stopped traveling frequently, but continues to work from home and has created a spectacular home office. He loves reviewing new products for his office and sharing his insights so that people can improve their home office experience.

Work From Home Adviser
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