How will office life be different in a pandemic?
The office you once knew is likely to look vastly different.
Companies are taking a variety of steps to keep people a safe distance apart, such as using staggered shifts or asking people to come in on alternating days. Cubicles may also have higher walls or there may be new partitions between desks for added protection.
Kitchens, conference rooms and other common areas may be closed, and some offices have implemented one-way paths to keep people from passing each other. For essential shared spaces like elevators and bathrooms, face coverings could be required and there may be more frequent cleanings and limits on how many people can enter at one time. That could mean longer waits to use them.
Even with such social distancing measures, expect to wear a mask, especially when you’re not at your desk. Your company will also likely ask you to report if you are having any symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidelines on keeping offices safe. But the specific measures at your office will vary depending on the company and any local rules. In the latest phase of New York state's reopening plan, for example, office capacity is capped at 50 percent.
The pandemic may also prompt changes that aren’t directly about safety. At Bergmeyer, a design firm in Boston, the lights were adjusted to make Zoom calls look better.
Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.