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What Businesses Need to Know About Reopening Their Office Spaces

May 6, 2021
With the announcement of the State of Michigan’s Vacc to Normal plan, businesses in all sectors will be able to resume in-person work 14 days after reaching 55% of residents vaccinated. That means 4,453,304 residents will have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As that milestone quickly approaches, employers planning to bring employees back to the office should use this time to develop a return-to-office strategy. This planning process should account for current Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) emergency rules and workplace guidance.

Welcoming employees back into an in-person office environment in the pandemic era requires special considerations and on-site safety protocols to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. MIOSHA developed a helpful checklist for businesses planning to reopen.

Some key protocols to establish before opening include exposure and quarantine guidelines, health screenings, PPE requirements, and workspace updates.

Exposure and Quarantine Guidelines

First and foremost, employers should encourage employees feeling sick to stay home and not report to the workplace in-person. In the instances of a potential COVID-19 exposure in your workplace, follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for quarantining and response at the office. These criteria have been updated with considerations for vaccinated individuals, so it is important for businesses to check-in regularly for the latest rules.

Health Screenings

Employers hosting employees on-site must conduct daily health screenings of employees and contractors entering the workplace to monitor for potential COVID-19 exposures and outbreaks. At a minimum, this should include a questionnaire that includes questions about symptoms of COVID-19 and contact with individuals known or suspected to have COVID-19. Temperature checks are also highly recommended if feasible. MIOSHA offers further guidance on these health screenings and their importance, but businesses may explore a variety of means to facilitate these checks – i.e., verbal check-in with a designated team member, completion of a questionnaire upon arrival at the facility, submission of check-ins via screening app, or installation of a self-service kiosk.

PPE Requirements

Though updates have been made to Michigan’s mask mandate rules, employers with team members in an office setting must still:

  • Provide non-medical grade face coverings to employees
  • Require face coverings when employees cannot consistently maintain six feet of separation from others
  • Consider face shields (in addition to face coverings) when employees are unable to consistently maintain three feet of separation from others
  • Require face coverings in shared spaces, including during in-person meetings and in restrooms and hallways

Reminders of proper mask use can be found here.

Workspace Updates

To ensure appropriate social distancing and increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols in your office space, physical changes to your workplace may need to be made. Some general principles are:

  • Keep everyone on the worksite at least six feet from one another and reduce congestion
  • Use ground markings, signs, and physical barriers as appropriate to ensure social distancing and reduce congestion
  • Create stations with cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, etc.
  • Consider upgrading air filtration and ventilation systems
  • Consider updating office floorplans and seating arrangements to accommodate additional social distancing

These are just some of the ways businesses should plan to welcome employees back to the office. For more details on how to ensure your office is safe and prepared for this return, reference MIOSHA’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Offices.

Additional Resources


What Businesses Need to Know About the Governor’s Vaccination Plans

What Businesses Need to Know About Vaccines Before Returning to the Office