Some options for sub-team planning include:

Option 1

Half-Day Shifts or Two 8-Hour Shifts Per Day

The day is divided into two shifts. Every lab member is assigned to an AM or PM shift. Individuals can only come in during their shift. Two 4-hour shifts may not be realistic for many labs. Wet-lab research groups could establish two shifts (e.g., “Team A,” and “Team B”), with time windows that allow closer to ~8 hours per shift (6 AM – 1:30 PM; 2 PM – 9:30 PM). 


Advantages are that this is intuitive and allows work continuity.


The main disadvantage here is that shifts are not well isolated. Fomites and aerosols are an issue for this option. Without (i) a 3-hour (or longer) break between shifts for aerosols to clear and (ii) a disinfection of surfaces between shifts, there is renewed daily exposure to shared air and shared surfaces from the previous shift. Thus, one positive COVID-19 case in the lab would triggers shutting down the entire lab, not just a shift. Also, temporal continuity means that an asymptomatic transmitter could spread COVID-19 to a lot of people before secondary cases become symptomatic

Option 2

Work Schedule for 3 Sub-Teams: 4 Days On, 10 Days Off

A two-week period is divided into three blocks. Lab personnel (or physically proximate groups) are divided into sub-teams. People must stay with their sub-teams, and not associate (both directly or indirectly) with members in other sub-teams. Note that non-lab persons who associate with members of two or more sub-teams break this isolation.


Sub-team A works the first 5 days and then takes 10 days off. Sub-team B works the next set of 5 days and then takes 10 days off. Sub-team C works for the next 4 days and then takes 10 days off. That ends a 14-day period.

Image of the 3-Sub Teams working 4-days on, 10-days off scheduling template.


This strategy is designed to more strictly isolate work units and to limit asymptomatic transmission chains between groups. The lab is in use every day, so fomites are an issue for each group.

If a sub-team has an asymptomatic transmitter who transmits to people within the sub-team, those individuals should become symptomatic during the 10-day off period, triggering screening of the entire sub-team before the sub-team returns for their next on block. Using this strategy, a whole lab would not go out of commission at the same time. Disadvantages are that the schedule is not intuitive, people could be asked to work long days on their “on” blocks and that lab members would presumably need to share tasks to perform studies that extend beyond the four-day window.

Option 3

Work Schedule for 2 Sub-Teams: 4 Days On, 10 Days Off

Time is measured in 14-day groupings. Each sub-team is in the lab 4 days of a 14-day period. There is a 72-hour period between sub-teams, allowing most surfaces to be safer for the subsequent sub-team.

Every lab member is assigned to Sub-team 1 or Sub-team 2. Individuals can only come into the lab with their sub-team.

Image of the 2-Sub Teams working 4-days on, 10-days off scheduling template.

This option uses the lab for fewer days (8 out of 14), but gives aerosols and fomites 72 hours to become less infectious between groups.

If a member of Sub-team 1 associates with a non-lab person and then that person associates with a member of Sub-Team 2, then the isolation is broken.