When the coronavirus pandemic began, we were figuring out how to stay safe, how to stay home and how this was going to affect our lives in the long run. Now that we have better answers to many of these questions, new ones have surfaced. How can I stay healthy while interacting with others? How can I prevent the spread of this disease? What can I do if I’ve lost a job? How can I explain this to my kids? Simply, how can I live in this new normal?

What about work?

Essential workers were never able to stay home and many of the rest of us might already be back in the office — in August, a survey by LinkedIn and Censuswide found that more than two-thirds of offices in the U.S. had either reopened or never closed in the first place.

Another survey of workers (this one by Wakefield Research and commissioned by Envoy, a workplace technology company) shows widespread hesitancy to return to the office. As an employee, you have some (limited) rights (at the federal, state and local level), but you won’t always be able to decide.

Even as cases rise, some workplaces are adamant about an in-person return — complete with contactless entries, limited elevator usage, plexiglass dividers, alternating schedules, frequent temperature readings and requirements to wear masks and social distance.

No matter what, be sure you know what to expect — and what’s expected of you before you head in. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, calls for employers to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, among other suggestions, but employers aren’t mandated to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also posted guidelines for promoting the use of facemasks, taking daily health surveys, disclosing symptoms and determining how employees may have been exposed at work. (And the C.D.C. says that a full shutdown isn’t always needed if cases pop up in the office.)

For others, this all still seems pretty far out. Some larger corporations, including Google, Uber, Target and Ford Motor (and, while we’re on the topic, The New York Times) have decided to keep workers largely remote until next summer.

And on the extreme side of the argument, some companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft, have said that their employees won’t ever have to return to the office and that they will continue to have a permanent remote working option.

Source: The New York Times