Reconsidering a Return-to-Office Policy: What to Know

By Alicia Geigel on October 14, 2021

As the pandemic is still ongoing, employers and recruiters are starting to feel the pressure regarding bringing employees back to the office. With the delta variant of the virus spreading, and cases continuing to rise, you may feel overwhelmed and fearful to consider a return-to-office policy.

Are you an employer? Has your work environment been significantly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic? Considering a return-to-office policy, but don’t know where to start? Here are five tips to aid you in making your decision!

work, remote, computer, laptop, covid, coronavirus, job, zoom

Image via Pexels

1. Have Empathy: First and foremost, when reconsidering to implement a return-to-office policy, have empathy with your employees. The pandemic has disrupted and devastated the lives of millions of people across the country, including those of your employees. Perhaps they lost a loved one to Covid, they recovered from Covid but are experiencing life-changing and long-lasting side effects months later, their spouse lost their job or got their hours cut back, or their mental health has plummeted. These situations vary and can all affect their attitude towards returning to work, so it is important to have empathy if you receive any pushback when it comes to returning to the office. Allison Sullivan, a career trends expert for Glassdoor notes, “Empathy is not only something that everyone can appreciate, but it can help contextualize the different places we’re all coming from.”

2. Consider All Options First: The pressure of deciding on how to navigate work in a ‘post-Covid’ world (though the pandemic is of course, still ongoing), is very real. Across the country, companies, employers, and recruiters are looking for different ways to normalize work again. Before considering calling your employees back to the office, consider all of your options first. Reconceptualizing how and where work gets done could be one of the best ways to solve this pressure. If possible, evaluate whether it is possible for your employees to work from home indefinitely. If you lease a building, eliminating these costs could save you and your employees the hassle of commuting to work and the worry of managing certain Covid protocols, such as temperature checks, weekly Covid tests, etc. If working fully remote is not an option, perhaps break down the week into work from home and work at the office, such as 70% of work at home and 30% at the office, etc. Additionally, you could implement a schedule of working remotely for your employees, but request a physical regroup once a week to catch up on the work of the week.

3. Work with Employees on a Case by Case Scale: As stated earlier, the pandemic has significantly complicated the lives of millions of people across the country. Kids are now learning virtually from home, people have had hours cut or been laid off completely, etc. Though it can be time-consuming, work with employees on a case-by-case scale if the return to office policy is getting backlash. Granted, you can’t give everyone special privileges, but if the majority of your employees are on board with only a few that aren’t, consider working with them to make the most of the situation. Perhaps their job duties are manageable from home, or their hours can be adjusted to reduce exposure to others. The options are vast, and ultimately it is worth compromising with employees as you don’t want to lose them amidst the growing unemployment issue facing the country.

4. Take Precautions in Your Work Space: If you and your colleagues come to a mutual agreement and decide on returning to the office, be sure to make the workspace as safe and clean as possible. The pandemic is very much ongoing, with the delta variant of the virus being both highly contagious and much more severe than the original strain. Take precautions when asking your employees to return the work by following CDC recommendations and what is possible within your current work environment. Space office desks at least six feet apart, have hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial/viral wipes readily available, implement a policy for wearing masks, conduct daily screenings with temperature checks and a questionnaire of symptoms, encourage employees to stay home if they are ill, and be lenient about lunch breaks. These precautions may not be 100% effective when reducing the risk of exposure to your office, but they will significantly reduce the chance, which can help your company get back to normal again.

5. Prioritize Mental Health: In a recent study of more than 2,700 employees by the Harvard Business Review, 75% of participants have felt more socially isolated as a result of the coronavirus restrictions, with 67% experiencing higher stress levels. In addition, 57% of participants noted greater feelings of anxiousness and 53% experienced greater emotional exhaustion. The mental effects of the pandemic are very real, and as an employer, it’s important to prioritize the mental health of your employees in the midst of it. Encourage employees to take breaks when needed, emphasize the importance of taking full lunch breaks, and establish hours where work-related communication is prohibited. Additionally, you can create a supportive work atmosphere by showing compassion to your employees and their problems, sending out daily meditations or motivational messages, and having routine meetings that focus on how each employee is doing, either daily or weekly!

work, remote, computer, laptop, covid, coronavirus, job, zoom

Image via Pexels

When it comes to running a company or overseeing employees during the pandemic, it is important to effectively weigh all of your options before bringing them back to the office. Practice empathy and ensure that you are taking proper precautions to protect their physical and mental health. Above all else, think critically and do what is best for both your company and your employees.

Follow Uloop

Apply to Write for Uloop News

Join the Uloop News Team

Discuss This Article

Get College Recruiting News Monthly

Back to Top

Log In

Contact Us

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format

By clicking this button,
you agree to the terms of use

By clicking "Create Alert" I agree to the Uloop Terms of Use.

Image not available.

Add a Photo

Please select a photo to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format