Returning to Work After Covid

The prospect of returning to work after the onset of COVID-19 has been on the minds of global business leaders since the rollout of mass vaccinations. As life returns some normalcy, individuals and companies can begin moving forward and planning for a new era of work.

As companies in all industries have undoubtedly been affected, employers must remain cognizant of various issues as offices and facilities reopen and employees return to work. Let’s review some of the most pressing issues at play that Human Resources (HR) leaders must be conscious of before they open their doors to in-person traffic.

Safety Is Your Responsibility

As restrictions are lifted, employers face the critical task of balancing reopening against reducing the risk of COVID-19 re-emerging. Although there is no perfect equilibrium when reopening brick and mortar locations at this complex scale, there are ways that HR leaders can make their relaunch more accommodating and safer for all involved.

For companies and facilities that were closed and have not reopened, sanitation is of paramount importance. Companies and facilities that have been operating at limited capacities must also consider making changes to their future processes that are promptly communicated to the workforce prior to reopening.

CDC Guidance for Returning to Work

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) details how business leaders must act before returning to the workplace, explaining that employers should implement and update as necessary a plan that:

Before contemplating a Return-to-Work plan, HR leaders must review any and all state and local laws and ordinances as they may differ in their requirements. This will ensure that nothing is lost and translation, leading to a fine for non-compliance to your business that could lead to major reputational damage as well as a possible permanent closure.

It’s also prudent to review state and local public health guidance related to returning employees to in-person work in your state and area of operations. Lastly, consult with local council members regarding legal and public health requirements the company’s return-to-work plan should consider before formulating a complete return-to-work plan.

Why Return to the Office at All?

Studies show that work-from-home (WFH) initiatives skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic and haven’t slowed down in 2021 thus far. Employees and businesses alike are enjoying all the cost-effective and productivity-enhancing perks of remote work. However, some companies still see the benefit of having an on-premises crew.

 

A recent Gallup survey might help to shed light on which route is better for the business from a productivity standpoint. The survey found that employees who worked remotely at least some of the time both pre-pandemic and during the pandemic had the highest engagement. Employees who work from home all the time, on the other hand, are most likely to suffer from burnout. This begs the question of whether it’s more appropriate to select a best-of-both-worlds approach, rather than putting all of your eggs into one of these two baskets.

Shifting to a Hybrid Workforce Model

Business leaders know first-hand how difficult it was to make the jump from 100% in-office to 100% remote. For most, it was a bumpy road that forced them to build out technology-based processes that left a sizable dent in their financial investments. This makes it difficult for business leaders to want to abandon this valuable infrastructure in favor of what they may have learned is an inefficient model for their organization’s new direction.

For those business leaders wary of yet another massive change, a new hybrid workforce model may very well be the most logical answer to this complex return to work challenge. To implement a hybrid workforce model in your organization, you must create policies that help WFH employees and in-house team members feel like they’re equals. The key is to create a positive work environment where employees feel appreciated, no matter where they clock-in.

Advantages of a Hybrid Workforce Model

Business leaders can take advantage of these perks when they adopt a hybrid workforce model:

Downsides of a Hybrid Workforce Model

A hybrid workforce model isn’t without downsides though. Here are just a few of the potential disadvantages that business leaders should be aware of:

Which Workforce Model Will Your Business Choose?

Giving employees a mix of both in-office and remote work is overall good for your employees and good for your business in the long-term. Hybrid work schedules aren’t just a temporary fix to accommodate COVID-19 pandemic health guidelines, they’re more likely part of lasting changes to how we work. If your business already has the technology infrastructure in place to accommodate a hybrid workforce model, it would behoove you to entertain the objective benefits of adopting it to help your company return to work safely and proficiently.

*This blog does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. This blog should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.*

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