Companies Outfit Offices For ‘New Normal’ As Employees Return To Workplace

PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — More companies are asking employees to return to the office. But what’s the new normal when it comes to the workplace?

CBS2’s Meg Baker has a look at some of the changes workers can expect.

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Signs that say, “Face coverings required,” “Keep a safe distance,” and “Please sanitize hands,” are all likely to greet people heading back into the office.

Onyx, a building landlord in Paramus, New Jersey, partnered with Hackensack Meridian Health’s Keep America Safe program.

“Our physicians, our epidemiologists, our infectious disease physicians… work with the Onyx team to make sure that they had the right things in place,” said Michael Geiger, a senior VP at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Air filtration systems have been upgraded and elevators in the building are limited to two occupants. The building implemented a UV light sterilization process, de-densified occupancy levels on floors and installed nifty latches in bathrooms so people can use their foot or arm, instead of hands, to open the door.

Big conference room meetings are also a thing of the past. The maximum occupancy is three people.

“We do provide an essential service for people, that’s their water supply,” said Rich Henning, SVP at Suez, a tenant in the building.

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Upon entering, temperatures are taken. Common areas like the coffee maker and copy machine have signs reminding people to use them one at a time and to observe social distancing.

Henning said internal polls showed trepidation from employees about coming back.

“People feel safe in their homes. But we want to make sure that they know that we can make the office just as safe, especially now that vaccines are more prevalent,” Henning said.

Attorney Rick Grimaldi, who wrote a book on transforming the workplace, said employers have the right to ask employees to come back. But, if anxious and concerned, employees can ask for accommodations

“It’s always best for an employer to try to work with them, to see what they can do to educate them around some of the safety precautions,” Grimaldi said.

He added the post-pandemic world will have to be flexible.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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