One expert compares it to the days of Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid.

Another says simplicity will go a long way.

They’re talking about the new guidelinesTrusted Source from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as recommendations from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on how workplaces can safely reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on.

“It’s a little bit like the Wild West,” said Daniel Kalish, managing partner of HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, a national law firm that focuses on employment law. “We are figuring this out as we go along, and the speed is unprecedented in figuring out what the rules are.”

Kalish points out the guidelines are there to help businesses find their way, not to mandate changes in offices, factories, and stores.

Those in the trenches say this is no simple task.

According to Heather Macre, a healthcare attorney with Fennemore Craig, the key may be simplicity.

She suggests boiling down the guidelines to what works for your location and then adding two more things to that list: sensitivity and compassion.

“A little of that is going to go a long way,” she told Healthline.

Doing what works

Macre suggests businesses begin by understanding the guidelines and then applying them to what their business needs to open safely for employees as well as customers.

Rather than get bogged down by guideline suggestions such as replacing HVAC systems, she said look at what you can do.

“Most can boil them down to four basic things: mask usage, social distancing, a sick employee policy that everyone understands, and an increase in sanitation across the board,” Macre said.

The goal, she said, varies from site to site.

“My hope is people can get it down to that. To focus on the big things,” she said. “Focus on the things you can control. Focus on what you can do. Do your best and take it from there. This has never happened before so, hey, let’s meet this with as much compassion as we can.”

A variety of challenges

The challenges come from many angles.

Management wants to make sure the workplace is safe and they are not open to litigation.

Employees want to feel secure and cared for.

Customers want to know businesses are doing their best to keep them safe.

Making that happen, said Kalish, starts with the federal guidelines, but he agrees with Macre on the need for sensitivity.

“Employee morale is an important perspective here,” Kalish told Healthline. “They want to work. They just want to work in the safest environment possible. Morale will be substantial if an employer shows they care.”