The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how we work

Megan Whitman spends most mornings working in her home office in Atlanta's Little Five Points neighborhood.

But, the part of Whitman's job she loves and misses lately, is getting out and mingling with customers, selling her company's beers.

"It's changed a lot for me," Whitman says.  "Because usually I would go out physically meeting with customers, shaking hands, kissing babies, doing what we do best, and that's outside sales."

These days, Whitman does most of her sales calls online or over the phone. 

FILE - A medical professional administers a coronavirus test at a drive-thru testing site run by George Washington University Hospital, May 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If she does visit a client, she sets up an appointment beforehand and wears a face mask and gloves.

It is not exactly personal, she says.

"Me, walking in with a mask on my face, it's a whole lot harder to engage a customer, trying to get a reaction, to what I'm promising to them for buying," she says. "So, it's a lot harder."

The pandemic is changing the way many companies do business.

Gone, at least for now, are most in-person staff meetings and shared office spaces.

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The CDC has created guidelines to help employers safely get back to business while limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The changes could mean your workplace could look and feel very different.

To try to slow the spread of the virus, the CDC recommends companies consider several steps, including:

  • Creating fewer shared workspaces
  • Spacing desks 6 feet apart
  • Placing transparent shields or protective barriers between desks

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Employees may be asked, or even required, to wear a face mask at work, and companies may conduct daily health screenings.

Those who show symptoms of COVID-19 could be separated and sent home.

There will also likely be a lot less sharing of computers, phones, and other office equipment.

The CDC recommends businesses consider having fewer employees coming into the office, promoting teleworking instead.

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The agency recommends companies also consider:

  • Staggered shifts
  • Limiting in-person meetings and gathering
  • Closing off areas common areas, where employees gather
  • Discourage handshaking

Whitman says it will be harder to connect with her sales clients.

"It's definitely going to change a lot of things," she says.  "I'm working on smiling with my eyes, lately.