In September, we discussed workforce planning in a post-COVID shift to remote work. At the time of our post, we were approaching the 6-month mark of government-mandated quarantines, which prevented non-essential employees from utilizing office space. For organizations that were amenable to shifting to completely remote or hybrid workplaces, we looked into several areas of considerations to ensure a shift that was both equitable and sustainable for a majority of organizations.
Where are we now?
As the Federal and State governments manage the roll-out of vaccine programs, organizations are beginning to define what is their new normal. The Center for Disease Control issued an order requiring the wearing of masks within public transportation hubs. Before this order, most of the COVID-19 precautions were provided by the State and local governments. The order builds on the continued use of risk-mitigation procedures like limiting traffic in workspaces, increased disinfecting of work sites, social distances, and health screenings.
For organizations that may be eager to return to the workplace, we recommend evaluating internal and external factors.
Internally, organizations will need to continuously review Federal, State, and local capacity guidelines since only a percentage of the employee population may be allowed into the workplace. Other internal factors to consider are the quantity of staff that could be considered high risk, ensuring adequate procurement of PPE and cleaning materials, and continuous maintenance of protocols in case someone within the office test positive or is exposed to someone who may have tested positive for Covid-19.
External factors that should be considered are equally as important. Employee commuting time, work schedules, childcare needs, access to vaccinations, and testing (if required to report to the office) are all considerations that will require some level of oversight by the employer.
For many organizations, the last 12 months have served as a required ‘pilot’ of what a remote workplace could look like. In this time, we’ve seen large, for-profit companies eliminate the requirement for employees to report to the office.
At Kiwi Partners, we’ve also seen some of our clients consider making the pilot a permanent solution. Motivations vary, as some view a shift to remote work as a cost-saving measure, others have seen the popularity of the remote setup increase amongst employees. A survey performed by Pew Research found that as much as 54% of employees would prefer to continue some form of telework even after the pandemic is maintained.
Could working remotely become the norm?
Organizations that had teleworking capabilities prior to the pandemic have continued to thrive. Teleworking capabilities include upgraded technology to support remote staff such as payroll, benefits, performance management, meeting and messaging tools. These tools are then combined with a shift in policies that could include: staggered work schedules, adjustments to time-off, expanded recruitment & onboarding strategies, and learning systems that allow employees to absorb information on their own time.
Whether you’re an organization considering return to the office full-time, on a modified schedule, or have fully shifted to remote work, the HR Services Team at Kiwi Partners can assist with the planning and execution of these strategies. Reach out to your HR Services Partner to learn more.