COVID-19 has changed everything for everyone. A year ago, working from home was something we had employees trying out “in case of emergency.” Of course, the “emergencies” we were planning for were something more like a one-day blizzard than a three-month quarantine. But when the day came that I gave the order to close the office, everyone went home, set up their workstation, and (with a couple calls to our LAN administrator for help) got to work remotely. Practice and planning made that move possible.
We have never practiced or planned for reopening during a pandemic, so beginning to do so is uncharted waters.
I’m gladdened by the decreasing active cases of COVID in our community. I’m proud of the social distancing that’s shown to slow the spread. The question has now become “Are we ready to come back to work?”
I’d love to be able to send out an email to my employees and announce that 702 is open for business, just like we were back in February. But that’s not the reality. The reality is, we will reopen, but it won’t look like it did before.
When 702 does reopen, we’ll do so with limited staff in the office. Initial plans are to have no more than 10 members of our staff in either building, at any time. Employees will be asked to sanitize their own workstations a couple times a day. We’ll have sanitizing wipes in the bathrooms, by the copier, in the break room and any other common areas with the direction “if you touch it, sanitize it.”
We’re also planning to require masks in the office. We’ll limit the number of customers in the lobby, discouraging any non-essential visits. We know some of you have missed coming in to chat with your favorite 702 employee and pay a bill or ask a question. We’re going to ask that you hold off a bit longer. Make your payment on the internet or over the phone. If you’ve got a question, give us a call. We want to keep everyone safe.
As I type, we’ve ordered plexiglass barriers for our customer service stations to create separation between customer and staff.
Staff members will be required to take their temperature before reporting in-person for work. Anyone with a fever will not be in the office that day.
Some of these things are going to be a hassle, sure. But the goal of all of this separation has been to protect each other from harm. We’re going to continue to do so for the time being to enable the day when we take the barriers down, put the masks away, and get back to business as usual.
I wish you all health.