Returning to the Workplace: Overcoming the Obstacles

As we rapidly approach the one-year mark of COVID’S grip on our nation and adjust to its everlasting impact and fluidity, many obstacles for businesses still loom large. It seems that no sooner did company leaders realize that working remotely was a real solution, they are now faced with the challenge of how and when employees can safely return to the workplace.

It will most certainly take time to get employees back full time, but estimates are showing that nearly 60% may be back in some capacity by the end of Q1 2021. With this, however, comes the understanding that compliance with federal, state and local orders is necessary.

Safety First

Safeguarding employees’ well-being is paramount to success and can only be attained if confidence is instilled to ensure this safety. Most companies will initiate a phased approach to reopening, thereby limiting the amount of people in the building at one time. Distancing measures must also be put in place, which may mean restructuring the office, including moving workstations or changing employee schedules. New protocols for cleaning and sanitization will be mandatory, as well as guidelines on PPE. Companies must also devise exposure plans, establishing procedures as to when employees can return to work once infected.

Communication is Key

Employers will need to provide a detailed communication strategy for employees returning to the workplace, along with those who remain to work remotely, to create a unified vision. This will include new training for safety precautions, as well as having an exposure response at the ready. Human Resources must be prepared for all employee concerns. Knowing what these concerns are will help to establish open dialogue and future success.

Work/Life Balance

Working from home, once considered a luxury to some and impossible for most, has miraculously become the norm. Now, managers are faced with the possibility that their employees may not want to come back. They may be dealing with family obligations, such as childcare, now that children are also remote, or some may be too fearful to return at all. HR and company executives will need to get creative to entice employees back, while also listening to their needs and requests to remain home. Offering part time remote will certainly be a consideration.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are resilient and can adapt to change at a moment’s notice. The most drastic change in the workplace to come out of all this, working remotely, may have proven to be the most interesting; knowing that it can be done and done successfully. Companies can learn from this, understand its long lasting implications and emerge stronger.

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