The pandemic’s physical, mental, and emotional toll has been terrible. Things are, thankfully, improving. COVID-19 cases are decreasing, whereas immunization rates are increasing.
Finally, there appears to be some kind of normalcy, or at least a new normalcy, at the end of the tunnel!
Employers may be eager to welcome their employees back to the office; in fact, certain professions require it. Employees who are unable to work from home owing to the nature of their employment or a lack of space or equipment may be eager to return.
Others, on the other hand, who have found comfort, security, and convenience in working from home, may be unwilling to return.
Employees’ apprehensions about returning to work
The following are some of the most common worries that employees may have about returning to office.
COVID-19’s looming concerns
The pandemic isn’t completely over yet. With so many instances and the possibility of new virus types, employees may be afraid that returning to work will raise their risk of exposure and infection.
Putting family members in danger
Employees will have to be cautious not only for themselves but also for those they live with if offices open. They may infect their family members by spreading the virus through themselves. When the dependents are the elderly or youngsters, the anxiety associated with such exposure can be even greater.
The dangers of using public transportation
While businesses can convince employees that all required safeguards are being taken to maintain workplace safety, it is impossible to eliminate all threats while traveling to and from work. Several employees are likely to use public transportation to get to work, increasing their chances of contracting a virus.
Returning to the daily commute
Commuting to work and returning home in pre-pandemic city life was a difficult undertaking, especially during rush hour. Working from home has put an end to the struggle, and commuting to work in this situation may entail walking from one room to another!
Flexibility is missing
Employees who work from home are more likely to stick to a schedule that maximizes their performance while also allowing them to maintain a work-life balance. Naturally, some employees may be hesitant to return to work if they lose their flexibility.
Increased living costs
For salaried personnel, remote working has resulted in cost savings on a variety of fronts. Due to social distancing measures, tight laws and regulations, and reverse migration, spending on daily commutes, overseas vacations, rent, eating out, creche, clothing, and other items has decreased considerably.
When the office job returns, such spending is likely to resume.
There is less “ME-TIME”.
People turned to growing hobbies they wouldn’t have been able to do in their typical work mode because they had extra time on their hands. Some of them have finally found the time to devote to their health, with strict workout regimens being followed.
Returning to work is likely to throw this carefully managed work-life balance off.
How can employers address these concerns?
Employers might implement the following activities to encourage their staff to return to work.
Maintain a basic level of hygiene.
Employers should take the following procedures to ensure workplace hygiene and sanitization:
- To promote a sense of safety among the personnel, strictly adhere to the COVID-19 protocols and set practices.
- All employees’ temperatures should be checked, masks should be worn in public locations, and sanitization should be done on a regular basis.
- Conduct COVID-19 testing at regular intervals, if practicable, to monitor for probable exposure.
- Reorganize the office environment, if space permits, to ensure social separation among the personnel.
- Launch a vaccine awareness campaign. If possible, organize a vaccination drive for office staff who have not yet been inoculated.
- When someone tests positive for COVID-19, have a procedure in place.
Pay attention to the personnel.
Some employees may be hesitant to return to their previous jobs. Understanding their reservations and working to resolve them peacefully is the key to persuading them to return without having to compel them.
- Management might convene a virtual meeting to explain why they believe employees should return to work.
- The management can open the floor for debate about the team’s concerns and come up with methods to persuade them to return.
- Alternatively, the HR department can send out a survey email to employees, asking them to anonymously express their reservations and suggestions.
Open the office in phases
Employers can take things slowly if employees are afraid to return to work right away. They have the option of opening the office in stages.
- Begin with teams whose job is jeopardized when they work from home, such as the IT department. Offices have better computer systems than homes, and many employees work from home on less-than-optimal equipment.
- Alternatively, firms might open an office for senior management and work their way down the chain of command. It might be reassuring for employees to know that their team leaders and coworkers show up for work on a regular basis. It can mentally prepare employees for their return.
Provide ancillary benefits.
To assist employees in making a smooth transition to the workplace, companies can provide the following benefits.
- To compensate for their commute, they are given a travel stipend.
- Creche facilities to assist parents who do not have alternate child care arrangements, particularly in nuclear households.
Greetings to a New Normal
As workplaces reopen, it’s critical for companies to show compassion, empathy, and patience while welcoming employees back to work.
It is critical to be proactive in the face of changing circumstances. If the number of COVID-19 instances rises, or if new government guidelines emerge, it is prudent to act in the team’s best interests.
Employees and employers will gain from working together to find a viable solution in a pandemic-stricken world. Implementing the aforementioned efforts and processes will help employers and employees shift more smoothly, allowing all stakeholders to accept the new normal.
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