We aren’t fully past this pandemic, but as numbers start to go down (in Chicago) more people are going back to work. I wanted to share my experience going back to work in hopes that it can help you prepare as you head back to the office.
Uber/Lyft – I took a rideshare to work the first day back to be able to take materials back to the office with me, I had to move my monitor and lots of other things back that I wouldn’t be able to carry on the train. Finding a ride took about 10 minutes, most likely because less drivers are willing to drive and not many people want to take the train. If you are planning on using an Uber or Lyft make sure to plan ahead and still wear your mask.
“L” Trains – Even during peak times there is only 2-10 people on each train. Everyone is required to wear a mask and riders are spacing out. If you wear your mask and wash your hands, riding the train is perfectly safe. CTA has increased the number of cars and frequency of trains to avoid crowding. Rigorous sanitation measures have also been implemented to ensure riders can use the “L” safely. For more info on CTA safety precautions click here.
Metra Trains – I don’t ride the Metra but my boss does, she said compared to normal the train cars are almost empty; it’s easy to maintain social distancing guidelines. The parking lots near the station only have about 20 cars in them, when they would normally be packed. The Metra is disinfecting their cars more frequently and installing touchless hand sanitizers in each car. Similar to CTA, Metra will also add cars and trains to the schedule to enable riders to stay safe. For more info on Metra safety precautions click here.
Atmosphere/Traffic – It is so eery downtown, there is hardly any traffic or pedestrians, even during rush hour. Those you do see are obviously headed to work and most are wearing masks. Social distancing or being trapped in a large crowd of people isn’t an issue. Tourists are also nowhere to be seen, it is virtually empty.
Restaurants – The restaurants in the loop are slowly starting to open up, but many are still closed, even some of the convenience stores are closed. The open restaurants are following city guidelines and social distancing rules. Thankfully, the Amazon Go in my office building is open and I have been able to grab something for lunch everyday. On your first day back, it would be a good idea to stock your snack drawer (who doesn’t have a snack drawer?) with non-perishable snacks in case you have to push your lunch time. I would recommend either packing your lunch or finding a restaurant that allows takeout before you get to the office.
Wearing Masks – We don’t have to wear our masks all day, but in our building and office masks are required while walking around and in all common areas. When we are seated at our individual work spaces we are allowed to take our masks off, but only then.
Safety Precautions –
– Traffic Direction: Walking traffic is directed in the office, we are only allowed to use certain doors for entrance and exits.
– Sanitation Stations: There are stations around the office with wipes and sanitizer that everyone can use through out the day.
– Common Area Restrictions: Everyone must eat lunch at their desk, not in the common areas. There is a limit of people who can congregate in the kitchen to get coffee/make lunch. Lines are taped to the floor to indicate 6ft waiting spaces by the kitchen, bathroom, and copy machine. There is also a limit of how many people can be in each conference room.
Schedule – The office has been divided into two teams, the red and blue team. The blue team will be in the office for two weeks, and the red team will rotate in for two weeks. No one from either team will be in the office at the same time, this way if one group of the office is compromised, the entire office isn’t exposed.
Cleaning – The company that cleans our office is coming in each night as normal, but they are doing extra sanitizing of all surfaces and commonly touched places (door handles).
WHAT TO DO BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK
Communicate With Your Office/Boss – First off, if you feel sick or unwell… STAY HOME! While I am so excited to be back, if your company doesn’t require you to come back to the office, stay home. Make sure you understand all of the company safety measures and regulations, and if you have questions/concerns be sure to speak up. How your company handles the return to “normal” directly affects you and your health.
Plan Your Route – Figure out how you are going to get to the office safely. Make sure you check the transportation service websites to ensure your route is safe. Leave for work earlier than normal to make sure you will be able to wait for another train or bus if the first is too crowded.
Plan Ahead – Make sure you have everything you need ahead of time. You will want to minimize how many times you leave your work-space and interact with others. Make sure you have hand sanitizer, wipes, and an extra mask as needed. You don’t want to be stranded without an essential.
Due to the precautions set in place by the CTA and my office, I feel totally safe returning to work under the current circumstances. I am following all of the guidelines in place to ensure the safety of myself and others. I hope you found this post helpful and instructive. If you have questions feel free to comment or DM me on Instagram!
Are you already back in the office? What have you experienced in your “new normal”? Let me know in the comments below!