The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines to workers in office settings to help them get back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic. The guidelines are designed to provide a safe and healthy workplace while protecting employees from the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC has recommended that business owners check for properly operating ventilation systems while increasing the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors and using fans. Building owners should also check for any other hazards that may impair the safety of workers, such as mold growth, pest, or stagnant water that may have occurred during shutdown periods.

Inside the office, the CDC recommends modifying or adjusting seating, furniture, and workstations to maintain six feet of social distancing. Shields and barriers should be placed in areas where social distancing cannot be observed, and reception areas should be arranged to allow for six feet of spacing between seating.

Communal areas such as meeting rooms, break rooms, parking lots, entrances, exits, and locker rooms should include reminders about social distancing through tape markers or decals to indicate where to stand, the CDC said. The agency also recommends replacing coffee pots, water coolers, and bulk snacks with prepacked alternatives to eliminate high-touch point items.

Business owners are also encouraged to change the way that employees work by allowing sick workers to stay home when they have COVID-19 symptoms and quarantine for the recommended 14-day timeframe. Work areas should also be disinfected if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have the coronavirus.

The CDC suggests conducting daily temperature checks before employees enter the workplace and additional screening to determine if COVID-19 symptoms are present. Shifts and break times should also be staggered to prevent congregating of workers, and visitors wear face masks and call before entering the building.

High-touch point surfaces in an office should be disinfected regularly, including workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, printers, copiers, drinking fountains, and doorknobs. In addition, employees should be provided with disposable wipes and other cleaning supplies to maintain their area.

The CDC also makes a note of providing employees ample time to wash hands with access to soap, clean water, and single-use paper towels. When not available, hand sanitizer can be used with a 60% alcohol content, the agency said.

Some office rituals should also be avoided, the CDC suggests, such as handshaking, hugs, and fist bumps. Employees should wear face masks in all areas of the business, and elevator use and occupancy should be limited to allow for social distancing, the CDC said.