While many people are still working remotely due to the pandemic, many employers are starting to open their offices and end all remote work. Not everyone is happy with this decision, as many people were hoping that the fact that work could be done remotely and successfully would have led more companies to adopt a more lenient work-from-home policy even after the pandemic comes to an end. Some companies have not only adopted flexible work from home policies, but they have also gone the extra step to close offices to save on overhead and took on a full-time remote work business model.
For some, going back into an office is a source of stress and anxiety. They are looking to their employers to take the precautions necessary to keep the office and all the employees safe. There are some questions that employees have that need to be answered.
Some offices have rows of cubicles with many people near each other. What is the work schedule going to look like? Will there be adjusted work hours and multiple shifts? Will offices with a large number of people rotate people between working remotely and working in the office, sort of like the cohort system many schools are using?
What is being done to keep people safe in the office? If there is a cafeteria, will it be open? Will people have to eat at their desks? How often are shared spaces such as bathrooms and elevators being cleaned and wiped down? Will employees have access to cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer? Are people required to wear masks even when they are sitting at their desk? Is the office being disinfected or sanitized daily?
If someone gets sick, what are policies regarding sick time? The Federal Government passed a number of laws to help people and businesses through this time, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that expanded sick pay and sick leave if a person get sick, or if someone needs to take time off to care for a family member who is sick. Check with your Human Resources representative to see what benefits are legally available and what benefits your employers have implemented on their own.
Contact Tracing and Notification
The biggest fear most people have is that someone will come into work while they are sick, and the virus will spread through the office. It is important for employers to remind their workers that if they feel ill, they need to stay home. Also, if someone in their home is sick, they should remain home until they are sure they are not sick as well. If someone gets sick, employers must find a balance between keeping everyone informed and protecting the privacy of the person or people who are sick. Many employers are keeping track of their employee’s movements so they can do proper contact tracing if a person does get sick. Those who are potentially exposed are notified and are sent home for testing and quarantine.
Some people are happy to be able to get back into the office. For some, it is a source of great anxiety. In either case, employers need to ensure their employees that their health and safety are being considered. Ask for all of the information you need to make yourself feel safe and make your workday less stressful. Employers should be able to answer all your concerns.