Here’s a little open thread for today since different organizations and different cities are all over the place: How is your office handling the pandemic at this point?
- Is your office open? Are you required to go in (or will you be at some definite date in 2022)?
- Does your office have a vaccine mandate/regular testing requirement? Does it require masks, and if so where are masks required (e.g., shared spaces only)? (Have the holidays and/or Omicron affected the policy?)
- Has your office done anything of note about air quality, such as filters, Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, CO2 meters, or more?
- Are you told if someone in your office has tested positive for COVID? (Q inspired by a recent Ethicist column in the NYT!) Is there contract tracing? (If your hallmate tested positive but you did not work together, would you expect to know?)
- Does your office have a supply of COVID tests to distribute for free, or do they otherwise encourage testing (such as reimbursing purchased tests)?
- Is your workplace having holiday parties or gatherings this year (in person or via Zoom)?
- How are you personally handling work/COVID precautions at this point — are you in the office, what are your choices around masking, do you have windows open or a personal air filter, etc.? If you have your own office with a door, are you wearing your mask in your office? Have you changed your commute in response to the holidays/Omicron/the pandemic in general?
What a time to be alive, right? I can’t wait to see the different responses…
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If you’re curious about some of the products mentioned above, here are some links — I’d love to hear if you’ve had good or bad experiences with anything.
- CO2 meters: Strongly considering getting one of these for our family. Here’s a NYT article on how they work; this Aranet device ($250) is the one I’ve considered purchasing in the past.
- Corsi-Rosenthal boxes: Really powerful air filters you can DIY for about $100 with a box fan and 20 x 20 MERV 13 filters (available at spots like Lowe’s and Home Depot). Here’s an NPR story on how to build them and why…
- Personal air filters: Pure Enrichment ($40), Wynd ($199) — my older son has something like this that he only turns on at lunchtime at school — I figured it might not help but wouldn’t hurt. (Here’s what the EPA says — these filters aren’t harmful but aren’t enough by themselves.) We’re also considering this car air filter but I want to research more. (I’ve read that some filters increase the chance of static electricity, so I need to assess what that means for cars and what my comfort level with that is.)
- At-home COVID tests: Both CVS and Walgreens sell home COVID tests; your local library and other sources may have them for free. (Note: If you have private health insurance, you should soon be able to get reimbursed for home tests.)
Let’s hear from you guys — what is your office doing? What are you doing at work? (Also, where are your best sources for good masks — and are you changing your mask choices at this time?)
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We never closed. Most worked from home for about 6 weeks in April/May 2020 and in the office since. We are fully open now, with attorneys allowed to work from home, but only two of us do and there is a lot of backbiting about it when we are not there (even though 4/7 of the other attorneys +1 staffer + multiple guests have brought Covid into the office at different times). We are masking in common areas and have air filters in the lobby and conference rooms.
American company in Europe:
– Vaccines / testing: They have a vaccine mandate in the US, but not in my country. You can get time off to have a vaccine (obviously – it isn’t the US here), but they don’t cover tests (as the government offers them for free). Testing is strongly encouraged and you have to fill in a symptom survey (in theory, but nobody does).
– Offices open: Yes, offices are open, at limited capacity and with social distancing and prebooked desks. Everyone hot-desks. It’s hybrid working and nobody is required to go in (most people stay at home, and go in once a week at most).
– Air quality: They have fancy air filtration systems (v. expensive, almost as good as a fancy hospital on their default setting). No CO2 monitors or personal filters though!
– Masks: You get two free ones every day (I’ve been relying on my corporate supply) and they’re technically compulsory. People do wear them – unless they’re in a group of work friends (which defeats the point), or in a private office (people do meetings in private offices, including junior colleagues).
– Christmas parties: my boss cancelled this year’s official one due to COVID (as she said it looked bad). However, she’s going to the unofficial lunch and probably the unofficial drinks too. She went to the unofficial Halloween party (which was quite wild) without complaining, but the company doesn’t want to have any official events. (There was an alcohol fuelled grad party in which people did shots and threw up everywhere a week ago and everyone has heard the horror stories).
US reporting in – my org provides PTO for vax appointments :)
Testing is free under our insurance – but I am pretty sure all testing is free for everyone (unless you’re going to a specialist to get a test for travel purposes).
Our office is still closed, but anyone going in must be fully vaxxed, and there is a mask rule if you leave your office. I haven’t gone in enough to know how compliant people are!
Another European version
– Vaccines – more than 80 percent of the adult population are double jabbed, up to more than 90 percent in some groups. Third jab and teens on the go. Vaccines are free, PCR tests are free and lots of home tests are free (all school children have mandated twice weekly free tests), but people supplement by buying their own home tests as well. If you want PCR with an answer within an hour, you need to go private and pay for it yourself.
– Offices open – my office complies with government rules, sometimes overcomplies. At the moment that means at least half time WFH, at other times it has been full time WFH, a few happy months this summer full time at office.
– Air quality – personal filters is not a thing, normal indoor air quality is generally very good, code does not allow used air to be circulated back into a building. Government guidelines and codes for air quality.
– Masks – compulsory in shops, wherever keeping distance is impossible, and public transport. Not generally used in offices, but for public facing jobs people wear masks.
– Christmas parties – cancelled due to Omicron.
Small American company, about 50 people in my office and another 60 in another office. No one is required to come to the office but some people are. Everyone must be fully vaccinated (2 shots for pfizer/moderna, 1 for j&j). People will be required to come in 3 days / week (your choice) starting in January. Any visitors or clients must be vaccinated as well.
This is our policy as well. Single office law firm in large CA city, ~50 attorneys and then a lot of staff.
Washington DC nonprofit
-opened end of June 2021 if you want to go in; required 2 day a week in person attendance starting January 2022
-vaccines (and related boosters) required for staff and guests; masks not currently required (in accordance with local mandate); when local mandate required masks, did not have to wear them in your own office with the door shut (or if in a conference room alone with the door shut).
-unclear if any air filters have been upgraded
-for COVID exposure, close contacts will be notified and all staff will be notified in a general nature of an event
-no COVID tests made available by employer
-holiday party via Zoom (as last year); will no longer have in-person holiday parties
-currently not going into the office; when I do in January when required, will wear a mask except in my own office with door closed
-my commute has changed as my bus service (which I took to metro) was eliminated during the pandemic; I will have to drive to a metro stop by car and then use metro to go to office
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything on this topic here (if there is something please redirect me!) but I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on interview wear at the executive level. I’m about 15 years into my career and ready to make the move up. And the basic navy/black skirt suit with white or blue shirt thing I did earlier in my career seems wrong now. What’s the mid-career/executive level equivalent? I feel like a matching dress and jacket might work? Do you go high end coordinates to show you know the rules enough to break them a bit? Is it adding a great scarf? What kicks it up to show “I’m successful and I’m here to make you successful, too”?
i like the conservative suit shirt with fabulous accessories that show your personality. scarf, brooch, shoes, bag. Not necessarily expensive, but shows confidence in yourself and in being yourself. Just my 2 cents!
I think a suit jacket and a matching dress are great, and I think you also can wear non-matching suit separates – e.g., sheath dress and Chanel-style tweed jacket, or even a tweed moto jacket.
Our office is still remote but we had a holiday dinner party at my boss’s apartment… which I skipped because I didn’t want the risk.
I got fed up with my company being reckless (two superspreader events later, when 80% of the IT department was out at once…) and found a new fully-remote job. I still need to photograph and submit my vax card, despite being 400 miles away from the office.
So for example the Executive Order from earlier this fall doesn’t distinguish between in person and remote employees for the scope of employers it covers…
That is untrue for remote employees who do not work on federal contracts. The executive order mandates vaccines for those working remotely on covered federal contracts.
Office never closed, because it’s a hospital, but those of us with non-patient-facing roles started coming back into the office 1-2 days/week in Jan 2021, and are now on a hybrid 3/2 schedule. Looks like we’re losing some of our office space, so that may shift to 1-2 days in the office, 3-4 remote. As a hospital, we have a vax mandate, mask mandate, regular random testing, free on-site testing available, ventilation, contact tracing, and daily symptom checking app connected to our ID badges.
Holiday parties were planned, but have now been canceled. We are having a small, masked event, but it’s not the same. And I may murder someone if I have to attend one more social zoom event!
Law firm. Official back to office is in January 2022 but you’ve been able to come in on a purely voluntary basis since summer 2020. Currently at about 2/3 coming in for some days out of the week with about 40% fully back in the office at least 4 days per week. Proof of vaccination is required for building access and office is 90+% vaccinated. Mask wearing is here and there – technically supposed to, but not strictly adhered to as everyone is vaccinated and by and large boostered. Outdoor holiday parties this year.
Academic in Northern Ireland and teaching remains face to face, but has concluded, but we are encouraged to work from home as much as possible. No official WFH requirement, but I will be home until the third week of January which means no commute!
We’re still working from home (large law firm), though you can go in if you want with proof of vaccination (this applies to employees AND office visitors). I’ve been going in about once or twice a week since this summer. My town still has a mask mandate, so masks unless you’re in your individual office (which everyone has–no open floor plan anything, even for staff, which is quite frankly one of my favorite things about our office design). We’re targeting a return date after the New Year, though TBD if omicron throws a wrench in that plan. We’re going to have hybrid/remote options after we officially return as well. Once we return, it will be vaccination or frequent testing at employee’s expense required. We were being told if someone tests positive (what floor they were on, when they were last in the office), but I haven’t seen that in a while so I don’t know if they’ve stopped doing that or we just haven’t had anyone test positive lately. No idea re air filtration. And we cancelled the holiday party again this year.
Contrast this to my husband’s firm, which went back to the office in like June of 2020, just with masks, and had a holiday party last year before vaccinations (I didn’t let husband go). They do now have a vaccination or frequent testing policy. Now that we’re vaccinated, we are going to their holiday party this year. Husband is totally fine with that, I am still pretty nervous about it. I do know almost everyone in his firm is vaxxed (I think maybe 2 staffers weren’t?), but who knows about spouses that might be at the party.
Worked from home since March 2020, with people starting to go back in this summer. The other branch (different state) was open pretty much the whole time, and no one masks. I was being pressured to return and also attend our huge trade show. My position was eliminated a couple of weeks after an outstanding performance review, presumably as part of cost-cutting measures because trade show was taking a hit–although I was simply told it wasn’t for performance. I got a new job at a fully remote company and it has been heaven. I’m grateful every day for the job change and kicking myself that it wasn’t made on my terms and sooner.
Corporate office in Chicago. There is no ‘return to office’ strategy anymore. We’ve adopted a hybrid strategy (part at home, part in the office), but it’s up to the individuals to decide when and how often. You must be fully vaccinated to go into the office, and they’ve just published comms that if you aren’t vaccinated by January 2rd, you can no longer work at this company. It’s amazing how many people told me ‘screw that’, go look for work elsewhere. But the reality of it is there are several job listings that also have the same prerequisite of “you must be fully vaccinated to work here”. It’s the new thing, and very hard to avoid.
Been 100% back since June. No masks since July. No vaccine requirement. Holiday events are on. They do contact trace positive cases and enforce quarantine if exposed.
No requirement to be back in person until January, TBD if that changes with omicron. Unclear what hybrid options will look like. You can go in to the office as many days per week as you like, although 95% of the people on my floor remain WFH full time. We were able to voluntarily return to the office in summer 2020 at 25% capacity, then it was limited again in fall/winter to essential visits only, then in spring it was opened up to 50% capacity. No capacity restrictions now. Vaccinee required for staff. Masking is really good- masks go on as soon as someone leaves their office and stay on until they’re back in with their door shut.
Public Defender’s office in Florida. (Florida….so it stinks) no vaccine requirement, but “strongly encouraged” by bosses. Get PTO for vaccine appts. Been back in the office 100% since June, but I can work from home 1/day a week in appeals. Also masking “strongly encouraged” with like 80% of the office wearing them, except at lunch in the big conference room where 10-ish attorneys eat. You can set your own rules for your own private office, so requiring clients to be masked is ok. Courtrooms are no longer using zoom, masking encouraged but not required. I really didn’t get notified if I was exposed to covid unless the person disclosed they were near me/spent time with me. Christmas parties in an enclosed conference room happen next week, I will be masked.
Small EU country, app 100 people in HQ, the rest is in RO around the world. HQ: fully back in the office august 2021, although with WFH as it suits your workday (I WFH 1-3 days a week, the people manning the reception and the helpdesk are in every day). Other offices depending on the particulars of the country (ex. the Delhi office hasn’t gone back to normal yet).
Employees and visitors are required to have a corona passport (either vaccinated, recovered from Corona within 6 months or recently tested), but only visitors need to show it.
Corona incidents are announced, and close contacts (either to colleagues or others) are requested to WFH until second negative test (4th and 6th day).
Christmas party just got cancelled due to the Omicron news. We had to move a Board meeting because we had so many (breakthrough) cases at one point, but recently I haven’t heard of any.
Vaccine compliance in general is somewhere in the 80-90% region, with boosters and child vaccination the big push right now.
Fed in the intermountain west. In person since June 2020 as we are essential personnel with an onsite-only mission.
-We notify staff if someone tests positive but leave out identifying details. Workspace is cleaned if they were in the office in the last 48 hours, though that’s mostly hygiene theater.
-Air quality: Building claims to have implemented some sort of special system but I am somewhat skeptical.
-Admin leave for shots and dependents’ shots. Admin leave for side effects. Obviously a vaccine mandate for us and our contractors, though a judge just halted the latter (grrr).
-Masks in the office. Distancing as we can, though it’s hard because we are all here.
-We will host a modest holiday party in our very large training room. It’s always a dry party and we are together all the time anyway, so staff won’t incur much additional risk.
-Had a breakthrough infection that I caught while traveling, so between that and my three shots I’m not too worried these days and do nothing beyond the usual masking, washing hands, etc.
Peach Medical , Peachmedical.com can sell test kits in bulk