5 steps companies might consider before reopening their office spaces

(BPT) – Sponsored by Office Depot

After weeks of having employees work remotely whenever possible, many organizations are developing plans to reopen their physical workplaces. For many business leaders, this is a challenging time as they try to determine how to reconfigure their offices after quarantine. Putting a plan in place may be the best solution. A return-to-work plan may mitigate the closure of offices for additional and more enhanced cleanings, help prevent lost productivity and help reduce absenteeism. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that lost productivity due to absenteeism in the U.S. cost employers $225.8 billion annually — or $1,685 per employee — through a combination of direct and indirect costs.

To help position your business for a successful reopening, Stephen Mohan, EVP, Business Solutions Division for Office Depot, Inc., recommends considering:

Site assessment

Partner with a business solutions provider and conduct a site assessment. Details derived from an assessment of the site can help develop facilities plans, and programmatic cleaning strategies. It may help guide your change management strategies and your reconfiguration of the workspace with tools and equipment like physical barriers, entrance screening stations, space dividers, floor markings, and signage outlining traffic flow to facilitate social distancing.

High-touch surfaces

Assess key areas used regularly by employees, including the lobby, work areas and offices, restrooms, cafeterias, elevators, storage spaces, high-traffic hallways and stairs, auditoriums, break rooms, classrooms/training rooms, parking garages, gyms and conference rooms. These areas may require additional cleaning or separate strategies.

Social distancing

Currently the CDC recommends a minimum of 6 feet between people for proper social distancing. This will likely mean reconfiguring many work areas, including cubicles, small-group collaboration spaces and larger meeting rooms with appropriate seating, capacity limitations and traffic pattern signs.

Touch-points and cleaning

Determine how to limit touch-points in the workplace and enhance cleaning and disinfecting practices. Identify what cleaning products are appropriate for your business, such as stronger and more durable disinfectant wipes, DIY cleaning stations, low or touchless motion-activated solutions, and consider whether antimicrobial products or furniture may benefit your workplace.


Consider how to have ongoing and transparent communication with your employees as you work through the phases of welcoming everyone back into the office. Provide employees with clear communication about safety and cleaning protocols through the use of digital and print signs, posters and literature. You may want to maintain an open-door policy for employees to voice their concerns or ideas for improving the workplace.

Learn more today

Thoughtful planning and proactive action today will help build confidence with employees. Learn more at business.officedepot.com about how Office Depot can help organizations keep their businesses running smoothly while employees across the nation begin the process of returning to the workplace.