As states begin to reopen their economies, businesses of all sizes are pondering the same thing: How will we maintain employee safety and productivity as we return to the office with a new hybrid workforce?
In the U.S., remote work has been on the uptick over the last decade. Prior to the pandemic, 43% of Americans occasionally worked from home. Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has driven even more people in that direction; 62% of employed Americans now work from home.
While employees essential to on-site business processes and those itching to return to a more structured environment will gradually return to work in the coming weeks, many workers will continue to stay home. According to a recent Gallup poll, 60% of U.S. workers who have been doing their jobs from home during the pandemic would prefer to continue to work remotely as much as possible, even as public health restrictions are lifted. In contrast, 41% would prefer to return to their regular workplace or office.
“With this new mixed workforce model in play, business leaders will need to strike a delicate balance to fulfill the needs of both in-office and at-home employees while safeguarding the business.”
This includes ensuring that both sets of workers remain productive, and physically and mentally healthy; and that communication, collaboration, and company culture remains strong despite disparate work locations.
Business leaders will also have the hefty tasks of assigning compliance training on new, company-wide safety procedures and protocols, and managing this training for remote and in-office employees.
For workers that remain virtual, tracking productivity and performance will ensure that remote workers are staying motivated and on task. Frequent check-ins will also help guarantee that remote employees are up to date on their workplace’s get-back-to-work plan should they decide to return on-premise in the future.
Avoiding any discrepancies between communications with on-site and remote employees will prevent friction and confusion emerging between these groups so that workplace unity and cooperation continues to thrive as we recover from the crisis.
For on-site employees, investing in an empirical way to track the safety of work conditions in real-time—such as the sterilization of workspaces and other facilities—will be key to making these first movers feel comfortable and confident. This includes on-site temperature checks, physical and mental wellbeing assessments, contact tracing programs, and proactive alerts to any potential exposure risks.
But business leaders need not fear nor scramble to build solutions to handle the new work paradigm on their own. Technologies such as automation and data visualization have unlocked the ability to manage all get-back-to-work processes and communications for the new hybrid workplace in a centralized way—including apps accessible to employees in real-time and on any device. Setting up your get-back-to-work command center in a data-driven way will guide ongoing investments in your workforce and help propel your enterprise resiliency plan.
“Taking proactive steps to demonstrate to your workforce that on-site and remote employees can and will harmoniously coexist in our new, post-pandemic environment will keep these two groups energized and united.”