Skip to main content

Employers are bringing workers back to the office. Here’s what risk managers need to consider.

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.[1] 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.[2] 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[3] to monitor current state of pandemic within organization
  • Maintaining social distancing requirements
  • Mandatory vaccination requirements of employees[4]

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,[5] 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.



[1] More Companies Delay Office Reopenings as Covid Cases Surge

[2] Has the Delta Variant Disrupted Your Office Reopening Plans? HBR

[3] What is surveillance testing program?

[4] More businesses are mandating COVID-19 vaccines. Is that legal?

[5] Most employers are eyeing hybrid model survey

Disclaimer: This document has been provided as an informational resource for Aon clients and business partners. It is intended to provide general guidance on potential exposures and is not intended to provide legal or medical advice or address medical concerns or specific risk circumstances. Due to the dynamic nature of infectious diseases, Aon cannot be held liable for the guidance provided. We strongly encourage visitors to seek additional safety, medical and epidemiologic information from credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization. As regards insurance coverage questions, whether coverage applies, or a policy will respond, to any risk or circumstance is subject to the specific terms and conditions of the policies and contracts at issue and underwriter determination.

While care has been taken in the production of this document and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon believes to be reliable, Aon does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the report or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in anyway by any person who may rely on it. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. This document has been compiled using information available to us up to its date of publication.

All descriptions, summaries or highlights of coverage are for general informational purposes only and do not amend, alter or modify the actual terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Coverage is governed only by the terms and conditions of the relevant policy.