Why the return to work can happen quickly
The days of teleworking can be numbered.
While some companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Salesforce, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, empty offices, others are ramping up their return-to-work plans.
Just this week Google, one of the first large U.S. companies to fire employees home last year because of the coronavirus, told employees it is acceleration plans to return to the office before the return on September 1 deadline.
In a note to Bloomberg employees first reported by Business Insider, Michael Bloomberg said he expects workers to return to the office as soon as they are vaccinated.
In a survey of over 350 CEOs and HR and finance managers, 70% said they plan to have employees back to the office by the fall of this year, according to a report from recruiting firm LaSalle Network.
“I think every office will be reinstated by Labor Day,” said Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network.
One year in the Coronavirus pandemic, employers, in particular technology companies As Microsoft, Twitter, Square, Spotify, Shopify and Amazon, extended work-from-home policies, some indefinitely. This helped to perpetuate the idea that remote work was here to stay.
“Everyone was driven by tech companies,” Gimbel said. “Then all of a sudden you get this ‘vaccine for all’ sitting on your lap.” (In fact, many states are now expand eligibility criteria for who qualifies to get a shot.)
“My bet is that within a year things will get back to normal,” said Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“It’s hard to change behavior at work.”
Among companies that are now considering returning to their offices, managing employees who wish to continue working remotely is a major concern, LaSalle Network found.
Vaccinated or not, more than half of employees said that, given the option, they would want to continue working from home even after the Covid crisis is over, according to a separate survey by the Pew Research Center.
Other barriers included resolution of fears about going to work and re-acclimatization to the office environment, as well as potential conflicts between managers and staff regarding return-to-work policies.
Meanwhile, business leaders are also working to make vaccines more accessible to their employees and even encourage them to get vaccinated.
Already, employers like AT&T, Instacart, Target, Trader Joe’s, Chobani, Petco, Darden restaurants, Mcdonalds and Dollar General are part of a growing list of companies offering workers free time and extra money get vaccinated against Covid-19.
About 8 in 10 employers said vaccinations would pave the way for a new normal in terms of returning to work, according to another survey of nearly 500 employers by Willis Towers Watson, a benefits consulting firm.
“A common strategy for employers is to make vaccines an easy choice for employees by first helping them convince them to get the vaccine and then making it easier for them,” said Jeff Levin-Scherz, head of the vaccine. population health at Willis Towers Watson.
About a quarter of employers go further by obtaining vaccines to administer to their employees directly or by facilitating access to vaccines through a third party – and 55% are considering or are considering doing so, Willis Towers Watson found .
“I imagine you will see more employers providing access to vaccines,” said Cappelli of Wharton. “I imagine there are all kinds of deals that can be made.”
Experts say employers may require employees to get vaccinated, but that’s unlikely unless they work in high-risk environments, such as nursing homes or meat packing plants.
Most employers have said they will encourage, rather than require, their employees to get the vaccine, according to Willis Towers Watson. Only 10% of employers said vaccines should be mandatory.
Equal employment opportunity laws allow companies to mandate flu shots and other vaccines, but employees can opt out under certain circumstances. The same may be true for Covid vaccines, based on the earlier advice.