Everyone from governments to workers is eager to get back to something resembling pre-COVID-19 life. Businesses need to get back to business, and to do so they need employees. But many workers are reluctant. Is it safe or is it better to stay home, sit tight and wait it out for a while longer? To make the smart choice they can start by considering these factors.

The Region

Different areas of the world are at different points on the curve. Some areas are just beginning to see surges in infections, while others appear to be in the late stages with few or no new infections or deaths. Some regions may even be seeing signs of a second wave of infections. Determining where the region in question stands is a great first step. Establish a scale of risk and estimate the region’s placement to get started in the decision-making process.

The Industry or Occupation

Some industries appear to be subject to a greater risk of infection and spreading. Certain aspects of food processing, senior healthcare, and cruise related jobs may bring higher infection rates and require higher levels of diligence to minimize risk. Other jobs such as software engineers and heavy equipment operators tend to be lower risk. Is there a high incidence of face-to-face interaction in an occupation or do people tend to work in greater isolation? Are there surfaces that many individuals touch frequently? Ask questions and research relevant industries and occupations to determine risk exposure levels.

The Employer

Most employers are taking precautions to protect their staff, their clients, and their businesses. Limiting the number of customers on the premises, managing traffic patterns to keep people at a distance, handing out masks and gloves, applying disinfectant to frequently touched items are signs that an employer is taking steps to keep everyone safe. Yet some employers may be less conscientious, taking few, if any, precautions. Visiting your place of employment and seeing if adequate protocols are in place is one way to help determine if now is a good time to return to the workplace.

Personal Vulnerability

Everyone has their own level of vulnerability to infection depending on the state of their own health. If a person’s immune system is already compromised, staying away from higher risk environments is obviously the smart choice. 

While all ages are at risk, younger people seem to have less susceptibility to infection, while seniors appear more at risk. Factoring age into a decision on whether to return to the workplace is a prudent move.

Expert Recommendations

Sites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a treasure trove of information that may provide the guidance needed in deciding if now is the time to return to work. The media is alive with virologists and professionals providing opinions on risks at national, regional, and local levels. While it is up to each individual to make up their minds for themselves, it is best to consider what those with expert knowledge are suggesting.

Personal Comfort Level

After considering these points in relation to each unique situation, it comes down to trusting your instincts. There will never be a 100% risk-free scenario, but after some careful thought, each worker must establish their level of comfort and act with confidence moving forward.