Blue Shield of California
COVID-19 Resource Center for Employers, Plan Sponsors, Brokers and Consultants

Large groups

May 19, 2020 - 3 min read

Returning to work in an office setting

How to make sure your office and everyone in it stays healthy

When it comes to reopening, bigger businesses come with their own unique challenges. From open concept spaces, to boardrooms, to everything in between–here are some tips to help keep you and everyone in your office safe.

Business planning

  • Get input from your employees and customers. Consider surveying them to see what their response would be to re-opening, or to modifying how the business operates over the short term.

  • Be sure to contact your supply chain vendors to ensure they will be opening as well.

  • Make sure your re-opening strategy includes a plan in case you have to shut down again, whether it’s for weeks or months.

Continue social distancing

  • Increase the amount of physical space between employees. This is particularly important in meeting rooms and open concept office spaces where multiple employees share the same workspace. Rather than filling every seat, consider leaving an empty space between employees.

  • Keeping common areas like breakrooms and cafeterias closed can help prevent transmission by limiting person-to-person exposure.

  • Install barriers or partitions at reception desks and other areas where customers, delivery personnel and other non-employees may frequent.

  • Tweak your business practices to minimize close contact with customers, e.g. allow for online shopping, curbside pickup, drive-through service, stocking shelves during non-peak hours, etc.

A man in the lobby of an office building, wearing a mask and speaking on a phone.

Encourage good health, hygiene and cleanliness standards

  • Encourage employees to use personal protective equipment (PPE), like facemasks and gloves.

  • Consider implementing employee screening procedures (such as temperature checks) on a regular basis. Visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website to learn more about employee screening procedures.

  • Set up hygiene stations at the entrances to your office. Effective hygiene stations should include soap, warm water and paper towels, and/or hand sanitizer.

  • Encourage sick employees to stay home, and require those who show symptoms to do so.

  • Employees who are healthy but who have sick family members at home should notify their manager and refer to the CDC’s website to learn how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

  • Emphasize the importance of proper respiratory etiquette (i.e., coughing into one’s elbow) and hand hygiene (i.e., washing one’s hands for at least 20 seconds) to all employees.

  • Routinely clean and disinfect your workplace – especially high-traffic areas shared by customers and employees like the reception area, conference rooms, shared desks and bathrooms.

  • If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, inform fellow employees of their possible exposure immediately – but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

A woman, wearing a mask and working at a desk with her laptop and phone, using hand sanitizer.

Adjust your business practices

  • Be flexible. Whether that means staggering the return of your staff, implementing flexible work hours, or continuing to encourage employees to work from home until they’re comfortable returning, be as flexible as circumstances allow.

  • If your business has more than one location, consider allowing branch managers to take actions outlined in your COVID-19 response plan. If you have yet to establish a COVID-19 response plan, the CDC has created an interim guide for businesses and employers.

  • Minimize all non-essential business travel. If travel is necessary, advise employees to check the CDC Traveler’s Health Notices for guidance and recommendations.

  • Even with a medically sound return-to-work plan, reopening a business at this time still poses health, regulatory and liability risks. Employers and employees should both be aware of the risks associated with returning to work, as well as the procedures put in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

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For more tips and information on how to keep your employees, clients and customers safe, visit:

If you have questions for your county health officials, you can find them here:

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