I’m sure everyone can agree that COVID-19 has caused a major change in the world in a variety of ways. Many bad ways but some good ways also. For those who have tested positive for the virus and recovered, returning to work after COVID-19 comes with a few additional considerations. When should you return? What new precautions should you take? What changes should you make and what other options might there be?
When Should You Return?
When to return to work has been a bit confusing so far and varies with the type of work done and the specific company policies. To help make it clear, there are two options recommended by the CDC.
Option 1: If an employee tests positive on a COVID-19 antigen test and their employer allows, they can return after testing negative on a NAAT test if they choose to.
Option 2: Employees who test positive but have no symptoms can return to work after 10 days. Employees who test positive and do have symptoms may return to work after 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours have passed with no fever without medication. These employees must also have improved other symptoms with the exception of loss of smell and taste improving.
One exception is if you have severe symptoms of COVID-19 or an immune disease. Then the CDC suggests you follow your doctor’s orders.
What Precautions Can You Take When Returning?
This pandemic has changed the way many people handle interactions outside of their homes. There are steps you can take upon returning to work to help reduce the chances of contracting the virus again. The first is the vaccine, but that is not the only precaution. Many companies have adopted COVID-19 policies that help to prevent the spread. These policies outline new employer responsibilities such as regularly cleaning areas that people touch most often (for example, door handles and elevator buttons). They are also removing chairs from conference rooms, limiting the number of people congregated there. Some are still requiring masks. Of course, the most basic precaution that should not need to be stressed is washing your hands.
What Changes should You Make When Returning?
In addition to the policies some companies are adopting, you can make small changes to help prevent contracting the disease again. One that I have found people have a hard time getting used to is not touching their face without first washing their hands. What a hard habit to break! Some people choose to continue to wear masks in public settings. This could be the easiest change to make though there are still arguments about the effectiveness of masks. Some people may even go a little extreme and wipe their groceries down with disinfectant. Many changes can be made, some simple and some extreme.
What Other Options are There?
My favorite new norm is working from home! This is one of the positive changes that has come from this pandemic. Before the pandemic, many companies were against employees working from home. They thought it would reduce productivity and remove their control, but many have found this to be just the opposite. In many cases, productivity and employee satisfaction have increased. Some companies have actually been able to save money by allowing employees to work from home, even for just a few days per week. Fewer employees at an office building require fewer desks. This allows companies to downsize their facility needs thereby saving a ton of money.
I believe that the pandemic will continue to bring changes, negative and positive, to the workforce. Hopefully, things will slow down, and studies will point to positive changes.