The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight as about half the American adult population has been vaccinated. States are now allowing non-essential businesses to reopen, but things probably won’t be back to “normal” again for awhile, since CDC and OSHA guidelines call for continued social distancing.

Here’s a breakdown of these guidelines for organizations reopening and bringing back employees to the workplace.

CDC Suggestions

The first step for your business to take in reopening, as suggested by the CDC, is to develop a workplace health and safety plan. That means you’ll need to evaluate the building for safety to deterimine if it’s ready to be occupied by workers again.

Making sure the ventilation system works will help facilitate healthy indoor air flow. You should also have the HVAC system inspected to ensure the workplace is comfortable. Check water systems to ensure they are free of contaminants following the long-term shutdown. The CDC advises to only open windows or doors if they pose no safety risks to workers.

The health and safety plan should include details on hygiene practices for meeting rooms or other places where close contact occurs. It may call for modifying the layout of furniture or putting down tape to allow for six feet of social distancing.

Three OSHA Phases

OSHA’s guidance for returning to work is divided into three phases. The first phase involves consideration for remote work as a social distancing strategy. It also calls for placing limits on the number of employees in the workplace. The company should consider flexible working conditions for workers who are at high risk of getting ill. Resisting non-essential business travel is part of a cautious approach to reopening.

The second phase opens up non-essential business travel while maintaining social distancing through telework. At this point the company can begin easing restrictions on the number of workers while resuming social distancing standards. The final phase of OSHA’s guidelines is for companies to lift restrictions on staffing.


The post-pandemic era is on the horizon as businesses around the United States begin to reopen. It’s essential for managers to be aware of the safety guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA. The more businesses and employees work together as a community to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the sooner workplaces can return to pre-pandemic norms.