As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to relent, the strict guidelines implemented by the federal government will follow suit. Many Americans will cease working from home and head back into the office, but not without underlying concerns. Across the country, states are starting to lift quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Although this proves to be relieving for some, most will approach returning with a raised eyebrow and a skeptical outlook.

Easing restrictions

Man wearing a face mask while video chatting
Man wearing a face mask while video chatting

Under federal and state guidelines, recreational activities are beginning to return to normal operations, although incrementally. People have yet to return to barber shops, nail salons, and many entertainment complexes, but this will change in the next few days or weeks. Yes, beaches and some companies that provide our daily lifestyle services are reopening, although this does not entail the expulsion of social distancing practices. Restaurant lobbies and retail are returning to operational statuses, but are limiting their internal capacities to approximately 25%.

Within the workplace, we must adhere to more stringent guidelines. People all over the nation have complained about the restrictions on their daily lives regarding recreation; however, regarding their work environments, some are less excited to return to a potential breeding ground for the virus due to the proximity of other co-workers.

The government has advised organizations to reopen at their discretion; the companies prioritizing who should work on-site based on how critical their job functions are. This means that potentially 75% of American workers will remain at home in the first stages of the post-pandemic return. How this temporary divide in workforce personnel will affect overall production is yet to be determined.

How we prevent the next wave

Man wearing face mask getting his temperature checked
Man wearing face mask getting his temperature checked

Many companies have implemented procedures to address concerns of potentially contracting COVID-19 and for those already affected by it. Yes, this is a reactionary stance towards a viral enemy that snuck up and blind-sided the world; however, now the world is slowly turning the tide. Companies are taking proactive measures to mitigate future outbreaks in the workplace. These measures are not only for the safety of employees and patrons but for the longevity of the companies.

Large-to-small organizations are stepping up cleaning procedures and requiring employees to wash their hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer. Many businesses are not only requiring face masks but some are also now providing them. Companies are also implementing social distancing procedures to mitigate the spread of the deadly disease, but will this be enough?

Lingering psychological effects

An upset woman holding her hands over her face
An upset woman holding her hands over her face

There is one remaining elephant in the room that has yet to be mentioned and has yet to be addressed; the psychological aspect that COVID-19 has left upon the global population. The emotional and psychological scars in the wake of the COVID-19 may be the biggest hurdle to overcome upon our return. Employees will return to work, perform their daily duties, and go home as before, but now the question is, at what cost? How long will the memory of COVID-19 prey upon the thoughts of the global employee? Will the potential threat of infection be a viable concern despite the efforts set forth by employers? How long will those that contracted the disease and recovered have lingering health and financial issues that our employers must find viable means to assist with?

It may be a while before things return to normal, if ever

Some blocks that say "New Normal"
Some blocks that say “New Normal”

The unfortunate truth is that the American and global workplaces may not be the same for quite some time. In all actuality, the workplace as we know it may never be the same due to the new measures set forth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Never has the world faced such a global calamity in the lifetime of anyone alive today. With the help of the media, social media, and the tragic mortality rate that many of us have experienced directly, this pandemic may prove to be an event that incites an underlying fear in many of those within the workplace for years to come.

The coronavirus, although silent and invisible to the naked eye, has proved to be the biggest and most formidable foe that the global workforce has ever had to encounter. Yes, eventually we will overcome and move on from this scourge, but for now, the lingering effects of the Coronavirus are here to stay.

How do you feel about returning to work during this pandemic? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.