When Quarantine Ends: What the New Normal Looks Like in an Office Setting

May 7th, 2020
Categories Company News

When talk of a worldwide pandemic started, we were all wondering what was going on. Very quickly, schools were shutting down. Then offices, cities, states, the country and then the world. Within a span of a few weeks, the world was at a standstill – with so many unanswered questions.

Many associations have offices that house several to hundreds of employees. The questions about safety are paramount and many of us are working hard to create a plan to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Here are some things to think about as you head back to the office, no matter what size office you have:

Create Reasonable Social Distancing Guidelines

  • Avoid meeting people face-to-face when possible.
  • Keep face-to-face meetings to a minimum, in a large meeting space, maintaining a 6’ space, if possible.
  • Avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
  • Limit or cancel unnecessary travel.
  • Turn all meetings, gatherings, workshops and training sessions into virtual meetings.
  • Place guidelines on spaces where people have traditionally socialized and congregated such as a breakroom or lunchroom.

Create a Cleanliness Policy

  • Avoid handshaking as a means of greeting.
  • Use only your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc.
  • When opening doors (especially bathroom or other public area doors) use a paper towel, tissue or disposable glove.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Use general surface cleaning products or wipes to clean commonly touched surfaces.
  • Keep a trash can, wipes, paper towels or tissues in areas where people will need them.

Be Prepared for Workload Issues if Employees or Employees of Your Constituents Become Sick

Current studies show that COVID-19 lasts up to 56 days. Most companies provide 2 weeks of sick time. That encompasses 14 days of the 56 days. You might also offer short-term disability to your employees. If you don’t offer short-term disability, consider bringing in a third-party insurance that your employees can sign up for and there will be no cost to your organization. Some companies that offer that include Aflac, Unum or American Fidelity.

Be prepared for a possible outbreak in your own office and be ahead of the game with a plan for the division of workload in the event this does happen.

Consider Offering Counseling for Employees or Constituents

There are a host of issues that could arise from this. Employees might lose family members, staff or friends of staff might pass away, fear could become pervasive to certain employees to the point where they are unable to come to work, PTSD could surface from this or past experiences.

Whatever the case, offering some type of psychiatric counseling or family assistance where it was not offered before can help not only the situation, but morale as well.

This Too Shall Pass

No one knows how long this pandemic will be with us. The key to coming out of this is being as prepared as you can be. As an Association, many of your constituents are smaller organizations that look to you for answers. You have the opportunity to help in a way that you hadn’t previously thought of.


Founded in 2006, Top Shelf Design has offices in Washington, DC and Raleigh, NC. Top Shelf Design is an award-winning design and integrated marketing agency working on behalf of its clients, focusing their design work for associations who span a spectrum of business and industry. Top Shelf Design has completed thousands of design projects for more than 3,100 clients. Their vision is to create new opportunities to expand their clients’ success. This mainstay has enabled their staff to foster a collaborative and supportive workplace where they care about each other and strive each day to push the limits of their creative and technical innovation.

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