Returning to Work: Working around the Lingering Effects of COVID and Having People Return Safely

The removal of most COVID restrictions has raised hope that we can all return to normal working lives. However, the move back to the office will require a transition. As an employer, you need to determine how you’ll operate around the lingering impact of the pandemic and how you’ll get your team back to work safely.

Many companies have become more vocal about returning their workers to in-person operations. One survey found that half of employers desire a return to 5 days a week at the office.

However, this represents a mismatch with the desire of most workers. A separate study found that just under one in every eight employees (12%) wanted to return to the office full time. Meanwhile, 72% said they preferred a hybrid model, with some ongoing remote component.

Given these prevailing attitudes, you’ll need to lay the groundwork for a return to the office. With that in mind, here are some considerations that will help you work around the lingering effects of COVID and let you get people safely get back to in-person work:

Safely Returning Employees to Work after COVID

As you get ready to bring your team back to the office, safety should remain your first concern. The main threat from the virus seems to have passed at this point. But some stubborn concerns remain.

A survey conducted near the end of 2022 showed that seven out of 10 people felt that the U.S. was moving towards a time when COIVD no longer created a major disruption. That’s a good sign for moving back to pre-COVID operations. However, that doesn’t mean that concerns have disappeared completely.

The same survey showed that 84% of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed with the sentiment “we will never fully be rid of the coronavirus in my lifetime.” That suggests that a vast majority of workers still have COVID worries. You’ll need to contend with this fact as you move forward with your plans.

Here are some steps you can take to counteract these remaining anxieties:

  • Have PPE Available
  • Prepare a Published Emergency Plan
  • Recognize Mental Health Concerns
  • Prepare for a Transition

Changes in Work Habits

Aside from the ongoing concerns about the physical safety of your workers, you’ll also need to deal with the new operating realities created by the pandemic. This includes changes to employee-employer relationships and differences in how some professions interact with work.

COVID created a significant dislocation in the workforce. The initial outbreak sparked a spike in the unemployment rate, as many companies were forced into sudden layoffs. Meanwhile, restarting the economy led to a tight labor market, with phenomena like the Great Resignation.

This process continues to play out. The labor market remains fluid, and job mobility continues to show higher rates than normal. As a result, you’ll need to take steps to keep your best workers in place.

Meanwhile, you’ll want to make the transition back to the office as smooth as possible. Here’s some tips that will help you do this while dealing with the lingering operational effects of COVID:

  • Stay Current with the Latest Updates: Since the beginning, the pandemic has represented a fast-changing emergency. This will remain true during its afterlife. As such, stay up to date with the latest information.
  • Gather Feedback from Returning Employees: Make your team part of the transition process. Listen to their feelings on the matter. Knowing their opinions will help you plan and execute the best-possible transition, even if you don’t take every suggestion.
  • Stay Flexible: You might need to change tactics over time. Remain as nimble as possible as you look to respond to changing conditions.

Looking to Bring The Right Talent Amidst The Effects of COVID? ABLE Can Help!

Getting your team back to work in the wake of the pandemic will help you reignite your growth potential. It also helps to have the right team to begin with. A top recruiter, like ABLE Associates, can deliver the talent you need to succeed.

Contact ABLE today to get started.

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