Coming Back to the Office Post-Pandemic: Is It Safe Yet?

The world is on a slow road to recovery. The discovery and development of a vaccine towards the end of 2020 made a lot of people optimistic for the coming year. Daily operations were drastically affected by the sudden outbreak of the global pandemic.

More particularly, the closure of countless offices prompted the shift into remote work. The effectiveness of this type of arrangement varied across employees and businesses alike. Some handled it better than others. Now, a return to the workplace is expected to come in the near future.

Changes within the Workplace

Many establishments are slowly but surely reopening. A lot of employees, however, are ambivalent towards the idea of returning to in-person working arrangements. This is highly understandable given the predicament everybody faced in light of the pandemic.

No single company can truly say that their place of business is guaranteed to be COVID-free in hopes of reassuring a safe return. After almost a year of transitioning to work-from-home setups, employers will need to win their employees back into the office or on-site. In order to achieve this, there are certain oversights that businesses should be wary of.

Lack of a Comprehensive Safety Policy

Going back to pre-pandemic business operations will take a significant amount of time. Observing good communication and transparency around COVID-19 measures can increase employee satisfaction by 72% and drop their fear of contracting the virus by 37%. Regardless, offices that are planning to reopen should already have stringent plans in place.

This should be obvious for any type of establishment. In truth, creating the necessary protocols for employees to follow is often neglected. For other instances, office policies have come off as inconsistent with the plans of public health officials and government agencies.

Nothing will lose employee’s trust faster than an outbreak of the virus inside the workplace. It’s vital that the proper measures are already in place. Take everything into account, even the seemingly little things. Educate employees on the safety guidelines and set a strong precedent for everyone to follow.

If an employee drives to work, make sure that their cars go through auto detailing for proper disinfection. Encourage the workplace to become healthier by putting up hand sanitizers and other sanitary equipment in various spaces. Ensure that proper contact tracing is done for everyone who enters the building.

Hybrid Work Arrangements

person working

The debate regarding the safety of returning to the workplace has caused a divide among many employees. A recent study showed that at least 3 in 4 employees are hopeful to return to offices. The remaining 1 in 4 would like to make their work-from-home setup permanent.

The challenge for many businesses comes in how they can be flexible during these situations. Do not make the mistake of forcing all the employees back into the workplace once everything has been sorted out. Allowing staff to explore different kinds of work models can be a good place to start.

Data has shown that 77% of workers have reported higher productivity when working from home. Despite these figures, it’s important to consider that each employee has different levels of comfort. Some individuals are keener on their health and safety more than others.

Both setups of working-from-home and at the office have their fair share of benefits. Recognizing their effects on employee performance will greatly inform the decision-making process. Open an avenue for employees to engage in dialogue regarding their working preferences. Always be understanding and inclusive of people’s opinions.

Show Care, Gratitude, and Support

Businesses usually put their employees under too much stress and anxiety. It’s important to remember that they are people too. Showing compassion can go a long way in improving employee engagement and satisfaction, especially during these tough times.

One of the biggest downsides of working-from-home is the difficulty in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Note that a majority of professionals are parents too. At least 60% of parents who work-from-home expressed how challenging it was for them to manage work and their kids’ remote learning.

Mental health is also another key factor. Many employees may feel isolated and distant given the current circumstances. This could lead to a steep decline in employee productivity and company loyalty. Businesses are at risk of losing potentially indispensable individuals.

Addressing these issues shouldn’t be put off until the return to the workplace. Allocate the necessary resources to show employees the proper support. Have management and HR reach out regularly. Thank them for staying with the company amidst the pandemic. Enhance the coverage of their health benefits. Nurturing and treating staff with appreciation will be beneficial for everybody.

Ultimately, the coming months will prompt another form of transition for businesses and employees. After shifting to work-from-home arrangements, employers are now faced with ensuring a safe return to the office. There is no need to rush into this. Take the time to guarantee that employees feel happy and secure to come back to the workplace.

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