Businesses rope off cubicles, require masks, check temps as employees go back to work

Dunedin-based Achieva Credit Union is getting ready for the day employees come back to the office.

Achieva's headquarters is home to over 200 employees, where about 25% of the workforce will return June 9. The changes will be evident at the front door, where every employee will have their temperature checked.

"We just want to make sure we are taking all precautions possible for our teams," says chief business officer John Wintermeier.

Once inside, employees will have a lot more elbow room than before. Management is roping off every other cubicle to make sure employees are appropriately spaced.

Some doors in the building will be propped open to limit the number of high-touch surfaces, like doorknobs. Online meetings will still be encouraged and there will be plenty of hand sanitizer to go around.

Achieva's common areas will be open, but Wintermeier says there will be one stipulation.

"Every employee will be required, and we will be providing it, [to wear] a mask in community areas. If they are in their cubicle or office, we won't require it," he said.

There will also be a renewed emphasis on sick workers staying home.

"We certainly won't tolerate employees coming in when they feel ill. We haven't in the past, but it's something that can't be taken lightly now," says Wintermeier.

Steve Hembd, the manager at Business Interiors of Tampa, says the office furniture industry is expecting big changes, too.

"I can foresee a lot of things that were very popular just fading away completely because now we have to worry about safety more than what something looks like," he said.

Hembd believes open-concept designs will take a back seat to safety measures like privacy shields and antimicrobial upholstery options.

Achieva Credit Union believes its adjustments will send a strong message.

"Employees first; we are looking out for them. We will not bring folks back unless we feel 100% that it’s safe and secure for them," says Wintermeier.