News and Insight

Resources, advice and thought leadership from our experts.

Social Distancing Guidelines at Work – What to Expect

States have begun the reopening process, and many businesses are establishing protocols to get or keep their operations up and running. All done while maintaining the safety of their employees. From mask-wearing to toilet-paper hoarding and constant Lysol spraying, the post-pandemic world is something we are all navigating phase-by-phase and day-by-day. Soon another step into the new norm will take place as employees might start returning to work outside of the home.

In preparation for workplaces reopening, what social distancing guidelines can you expect to see implemented as you return, whether you are in the role of employer or employee?


  1. Avoid in-person discussions or meetings – Keep the conversations to email, phone, messaging app, or online conferencing platform as much as possible, especially on the onset. If it’s necessary that meetings take place physically face-to-face, conduct them efficiently and schedule them in a space that allows for social distancing.
  2. Kick the water cooler routine – When it comes to the lunchroom, copy room, or any other area where socializing used to take place, say good-bye. You should no longer be congregating anywhere at work unless you can do so at a safe distance. Start bringing your lunch to work and eat at your desk or outside, if possible. If dining with others, stay 6 feet apart.
  3. Embrace a new world of transportation – The safest thing to do is avoid public transportation altogether, but if you can’t walk, cycle, or drive your car to get to work, be diligent along your travels. Go in earlier or later to avoid rush-hour crowding, wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart from others as much as you can, and feel free to bathe in Purell upon exiting.
  4. Keep handshaking to a minimum and hand washing to a maximum – When you return to work, you’re putting yourself and your immune system in a more compromising position being around people outside of your quarantine squad. So stay thorough with the handwashing and make colleagues aware you are most comfortable with a handshaking-free zone.


  1. Add floor decals/tape to your budget – Before employees return, measure and mark 6-foot distance with floor tape in areas where lines might form or multiple people might be working. This is especially helpful in manufacturing environments or for offices that will continue to maintain the open-floor concept. Floor marketing are especially helpful in manufacturing environments or for offices that will continue to maintain the open-floor concept.
  2. Stagger breaks and rearrange seating – Allow employees to feel comfortable around others by rearranging seats to maintain physical distance and to remove any question about what is and what isn’t the protocol for social distancing.
  3. Revamp workstations – Reposition employees to create more distance between workers. It’s also worth investing in a package of disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer for each workstation. If repositioning doesn’t go far enough to create a social-distancing friendly environment, consider installing plexiglass partitions.
  4. Encourage workers to be honest – Create an environment built on open lines of communication when it comes to safety and health. Employees should feel comfortable bringing any concerns to the employers’ attention.
  5. Establish flex schedules – If possible, for your business, create teams so that shifts can be staggered to keep the workplace traffic at a minimum. If you’re able to create flexible worksites, whether that’s the actual employee’s home or a second off-site location for personnel to work, this will help alleviate congestion.

What social distancing guidelines are you expecting to experience upon returning to work, and which do you feel are most important? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out Making an Impact, Virtually.