May 19, 2020

Massachusetts Path to Reopening

Yesterday Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker formally announced the four-step process to reopen Massachusetts to the new normal. Each step of the process should last for 3-weeks.

This means that Massachusetts will be back to the new normal around mid-July.

Boston Workers Staying Home

Starting on June 1st, Boston Office Workers can return to their offices - but only at 25% capacity. Major companies are asked to encourage workers to work from home. Prior to yesterday's announcement, several companies have made announcements to that effect:

  • Wayfair - September 8, 2020
  • Raytheon - No specific date on when Boston area employees will be encourage to return to the office.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Some offices may open but they plan to continue encouraging employees to work from home "for the foreseeable future."
  • Google - Encouraging employees to work from home until the end of the year
  • Twitter - Says staff can continue to work from home permanently.

Fifty-four companies in Massachusetts agreed to keep their employees home long after the restrictions are lifted. This will help the MBTA from being crowded and

Changes around the Office

There's an old saying, "You can never go home again." Well for the thousands of workers that spent time working from home over the past few weeks, the office isn't going to be the same.

As part of the new normal, there will be a lot of changes around the office. Here are just some of the changes recommended by the CDC:

  • Temperature checks, Elevator Guest restrictions - Have your temperature check every morning as you walk in the building, and wait in longer lines for the elevator.
  • One way hallway - Much like you see in grocery stores, workers will be encouraged to walk down the hallway in one direction. (I don't know how this will be enforced!)
  • Social Distancing Desks - Things may have to be rearranged so people aren't sitting next to each other. Open Office concept isn't good for social distancing.
  • Cleaner Air - Many larger building did some HVAC upgrades in April/May to help circulate cleaner air throughout the building.

Full information on the Safety Standards for Office Spaces is available on the Mass.gov website.

The MBTA Plan

The MBTA plans to resume a modified FY20 full schedule in phase 3, which is about 6-weeks from now. This modified schedule most likely will mean no express trains.

Prior to Phase 3, the MBTA Commuter Rail will on a reduced schedule and then add additional trains in Phase 2. Currently there are only 4 trains that run in the morning,

I would expect that commuters would be waiting until after the July 4th holiday weekend to start taking the train back in - at least those that plan to visit the office.

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