The COVID-19 pandemic, rebounding with the Delta variant, continues to upend many long-held assumptions about where and how work gets done. Many companies that planned to reopen their doors and bring employees back into offices have delayed those plans; others are trudging forward with return-to-work plans, but under stricter health and safety guidelines. The Delta variant is one more gut punch in the pandemic world in which we operate.
Business needs and employee well-being will dictate how your organization rethinks its return-to-work strategy. As the pandemic lingers keep in mind that this latest setback may not be the last. Before eventually stepping foot in the office, leaders should start to prep themselves and their teams by acknowledging the dramatic shifts that have taken place, the changes that may or may not become permanent, and what employees can expect upon their return.
For those companies still moving forward with office reopening plans, the Delta variant has forced many to continue navigating health and safety guidelines and establishing protocols, including:
- Mandatory mask-wearing for all, including vaccinated employees
- Increased testing, including surveillance testing to monitor current state of pandemic within organization
- Maintaining social distancing requirements
- Mandatory vaccination requirements of employees
Whenever the pandemic loosens its grip, and as organizations ponder their reopening move, leaders may be tempted to make decisions based solely on what the law or industry guidelines allow or recommend. But employees have much at stake as the workplace rebounds, with 71% of executives saying they think their workers would prefer a hybrid model over full-time in-person work, and therefore should play a critical role in the planning process -- whenever the pandemic loosens its grip.
A comprehensive business resumption plan, developed with a risk lens, can help workplaces reopen, with a focus on employee wellness, morale and retention. Given the length and evolving nature of this crisis—and the ongoing uncertainty of where best practices may eventually land—flexibility in planning and execution are key. Companies will want to carefully monitor their capital and operating costs associated with the reopening and avoid overcommitting to a particular plan. Strategies will also need to be tailored by country, location and workplace culture.
With that in mind, here’s what you may see when you step through your office doors soon.
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