Global firm lays out framework for returning to the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As more coronavirus restrictions are lifted, more people are returning to work but many may be wondering what precautions employers should be taking in order to keep them from being exposed to the virus.

According to a survey of 40,000 thousand people conducted by Cushman & Wakefield, employees are missing one thing the most while working home from the pandemic.

"They're missing the bond... Regardless of which part of the globe that the respondents came from, that was universal," said Andrew McDonald, president of the company's west coast region.

Executives at the global real estate services firm with more than 50,000 employees in some 60 countries have had some practice bringing employees back to work as more restrictions that were prompted by the pandemic are lifted. So, the firm developed a how-to guide for reopening the workplace.

McDonald says just 25% of the company's 200 Los Angeles employees will be returning to their six offices in the city.

"We bring back 25% because we believe that is a manageable number, a number we feel is safe" in terms of managing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

And those who do return to the office will have to adjust to some new routines. One example: entering in one direction and leaving in another, like one-way streets.

"In downtown Los Angeles, we're going to be doing that clockwise. So an employee... will walk into the lobby and they will go to their right, which is clockwise, to find their seat. Same thing for the conference room, same thing for the bathroom, same thing for the kitchen," McDonald said.

A "living lab" in Amsterdam was used to test physical distancing practices, cleaning specifications and ways to minimize so-called "pinch points," where employees might gather or touch the same buttons, such as in an elevator. In order to do that, employees may have staggered start times for their work days.

"So one population would start work at 8am, and perhaps a different population would start at 9 am," he added.

The firm's survey came back with another finding: high productivity from employees working remotely. So, working from home could be around for awhile.

But, for those heading back to the office: bring a mask, and maybe your own coffee, follow the signs at work, and keep a 6-foot distance from others.

"I think it's incumbent upon the employer to make sure that they follow the steps to make sure the environment is clean and is safe and if that is done then absolutely employees should feel safe," McDonald said.
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