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What Does Returning to the Office Look Like?

Olivia Kelley

Olivia Kelley

June 11, 2020

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After months of social distancing in our homes, we are beginning to see parts of the country slowly reopen their doors. This of course begs the question everyone is asking: What is the new “normal,” particularly when we think about the return to the office?

We know the basics: face mask on, wash your hands, and maintain a six foot distance when possible. How does this play out in an office setting, though? What will the new protocols be when it comes to meetings, office events, and lunch time? While we don’t have all the answers quite yet, here are some things we are considering as a catering business to keep our team — and your team — safe and healthy at work. 

Space Between Desks

Let’s start at the beginning. The first thing we need to consider about our office spaces is, well, space. If you work in a building where you have your own office or cubicle, then you are already at an advantage when it comes to keeping your distance! For open concept offices, managers will need to consider spacing out desks six feet apart, so as not to spread germs. This may mean having fewer people in the office at one time. Think about what makes the most sense for your space. You may need to have employees come into the office in shifts and/or offer flexible work from home hours. 

Regular Cleaning Throughout the Work day 

If you’re an office manager, you may be used to cleaning and taking out the trash in the office once a day, or maybe even less. Cleaning throughout the workday will be more of a necessity as people start coming back to the workplace. Keep antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer available in all areas of the office. Encourage team members to clean off things they’ve touched (like printers or other office supplies) when they are done using them, so it’s sanitized and ready for the next person. Swap out regular coffee stirrers or silverware in the kitchen for individually packaged versions, to avoid contamination. Basically, think about where germs are likely to spread and see if there’s a better option or a way to sanitize regularly. 

Office Meals 

Encourage people to bring their lunches or order as a group to reduce the number of couriers coming into the building. This is easy to accomplish through a meal program, where you provide your team with individually packaged meals during the work day. If people do go out, try to schedule different times for team members to leave, so as not to crowd elevators and stairways. Unfortunately, lunch may look like everyone eating at their desks for a while. Make it fun by turning on some music and taking time to connect as a team — from a safe distance! 

More Flexible PTO policies

One thing you may also be considering as you think about your return to the office, is making sure your PTO policies are flexible enough to accommodate new schedules and, most importantly, sick time. The last thing you want during a pandemic is team members showing up to work when they are symptomatic. Make sure your PTO policy has enough sick days built in so that people can feel comfortable taking a day off when they aren’t feeling well. You may also choose to offer flexible work from home days, which will encourage anyone who is experiencing symptoms to just stay home, even if they have a lot to get done! Bottom line: Make sure your people aren’t coming into the office sick. Ever.

While there is still a lot that is uncertain, and we are still learning ourselves, we know taking every possible precaution is the highest priority right now. We are doing everything we can to keep you safe and informed. 

Learn more about our current health and safety policies here.


Want to streamline your office lunches with your own meal program? Talk to one of our catering experts!

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“Cater2.me has been able to get our employees from all different departments together, to get away from our desks, recharge, and be able to return to our work, happy and full.”

—Ellen K., Employee Experience Specialist, Frame.io