As many cities are gearing towards Phase Two and are opening again, employers face deciding whether they should reopen their offices or to continue having their staff work from home. When making this decision, there are many facets that need to be weighed in, such as government regulations, fiscal issues, and, most importantly, safety.
There are various pros and cons for returning to work and staying remote. When it comes to returning to work, employers need to make sure their office space is set up according to government regulations. Requirements would include having adequate sanitation stations set up, six feet between each desk and signs that remind employees to make sure they wash their hands and keep their masks for the entire duration they are in the office. If employers are considering having employees return to work, they will need to determine who is essential and must consider permanent alternatives for employees who do not feel safe traveling to work and those who are elderly or have respiratory issues. Returning to work can be beneficial for those who may not have enough space at home for an actual remote setup, those who have network or internet issues, or those who want an escape from always being at home. It can also be beneficial for staff who have trouble learning how to use remote conferencing tools such as Zoom or Skype, which often have connectivity issues that can disrupt meetings, as well as for those whose day-to-day work requires using a printer, scanner, or fax machine.
Staying remote also means employers need to implement certain guidelines and may even need to rethink existing policies. Continuing remote work would allow employees to remain safe and prevent them from being susceptible to contracting viruses in crowded subways and buses, especially with flu season coming right around the corner. It may also allow employees to have a better work-life balance and help working parents save money instead of spending on babysitters and daycares, which could also be a scarce option currently. On the other hand, working remotely may require managers to reconsider the typical 9-5 workday and be more flexible where employees can start or end their days at different times. Additionally, it can pose a problem to employees that live in small spaces and do not have an office space to work in. Switching to a one hundred percent remote model can also mean employers would need to provide office supplies to all staff; that may not be affordable on top of rent that employers are required to pay even though no one is using the office space.
When deciding which direction to go in, it is imperative that employers consider the positives and negative of returning to work and staying remote. Please contact your designated HR Advisor to help you make this decision and to learn what kind of protocol is required for both.