Returning to Work: Forecasting the New Normal in BusinessClient Alert
We cannot predict when businesses will reopen across the country. As we publish this Alert, dynamic business leaders are cooperating in comprehensive efforts to create safe work environments so that they can all re-engage the workforce.
However, we can predict the new normal in business. Some important studies were published yesterday, and the new normal in business will be facemasks for all employees, and probably all business visitors.
The scientists at the National Institutes of Health published a study yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine addressing the question of whether the coronavirus can be “aerosolized” when people are speaking. The study advises that the coronavirus can be aerosolized and transmitted between individuals who speak in-person.
In an accompanying commentary to the study, a Harvard University biologist remarked that those aerosols from infected persons may pose a threat, “even at considerable distances and in enclosed spaces,” and identified the wearing of a masks as a prophylactic measure.
Additionally, Nature Medicine published its study yesterday finding that individuals may be infectious for two to three days before showing symptoms of Covid-19.
What does this mean for employers?
Start sourcing facemasks now. Whether essential or non-essential, healthcare or non-healthcare, all employers will need to have facemasks for employees, and probably visitors, in order to return to new normal operations.
When combining the studies and the commentary, it makes the current preventative measures (six-foot rule, temperature at door, sending sick employees home, etc.) look less effective than believed. Speaking can be as dangerous as coughs and sneezes. Either by governmental order, regulatory requirement, or to avoid novel claims by employees, employers will need to provide facemasks.
We expect that additional requirements will also be issued before businesses will reopen, so it probably makes sense to start sourcing disinfectant products at the same time.