Working from home has saved the jobs of millions during this world-wide shut down, with 98 percent of companies implementing work at home, according to a survey by Challenger, Grey, and Christmas. But, that figure is misleading. Just because 98 percent of companies have people working from home now, doesn't mean that 98 percent of people are working from home. 

The University of Chicago estimates that only 34 percent of jobs can be done in their entirety from home, which accounts for 44 percent of salaries. So, as we would expect, work at home jobs favor the well paid, but not to such an extreme as to obliterate the other jobs.

If you take a look at the jobless numbers--17 million people filing for unemployment in the past three weeks--it's obvious that many, many people can't work from home and aren't considered essential workers.

If your business is one of these, and you're chomping at the bit to re-open or bring your works back to full productivity, you need to be the first prepared. Here's what you need to be doing now.

Develop your policies

It won't be like a switch flips and we return to pre-Coronavirus life. When restrictions ease the risk won't be eliminated. Will you be taking temperatures? What do you do if someone has a fever? What if that person is the executive vice president? What if it's the lead salesperson? High levels of employment don't change your risk factors. You need to make it clear that everyone who has a fever will go home, for instance.

Prepare your worksite

If you're running a hotel, will you change how far apart your employees stand at the check-in counter? What about the line for your guests to check-in? If you run an engineering lab, are workstations far enough apart? Are your handwashing stations sufficient? 

Many worksites will need to be reworked to allow for proper social distancing. Start planning now so that you're prepared when your local leaders give the go-ahead.

Think about scheduling

Many jobs that must be done on-site do not need to have everyone there at the same time. Can you stagger schedules so that fewer people are there at a time? How can you make it fair? How will you handle cleaning? 


If you laid people off, you'll need to hire. Naturally, the easiest way to do this is to reach out to the people you laid off. Some may not wish to come back. They'll all ask you what you intend to do to keep them safe. You need to have this plan put together before you make that first phone call or send that first email. If you need to do general recruiting, you'd be wise to address this issue on your job postings. People will be looking for it.

With so many people out of work and so many people anxious to come back, don't mistake enthusiasm for preparedness. Start working on your plans now.