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Blog - The Post-COVID Workplace
City of Burlington
Economic Development Office
September 3, 2021
The Post-COVID Workplace: What Are the Experts Saying?
After the release of Gov. Cooper’ executive order calling for an ease on masks and gathering limits, businesses have gradually invited their employees to return to work in-person. However, some organizations are still hesitant about fully re-opening office spaces.
Is one option better than the other? It is truly hard to say, according to Tom Barkin, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Speaking on a webinar sponsored by the North Carolina Economic Development Association, he stated that “there is not enough data to compare business outcomes between completely hybrid or traditional models of work just yet.” However, many workforce participants have weighed in on the topic.
Many people are thrilled to return to work in person. Countless workers have pointed to the decrease in social connections and lack of connection amongst their peers. According to Forbes, working from home is associated with a decreased personal connection to fellow employees. Positive social interactions are associated with lower turnover and absenteeism, higher levels of employee engagement, and overall greater health outcomes.
Indeed, organic interactions are considerably less likely between team members working from home. In a compromise between worker safety and worker preferences, some companies have opted to continue the work from home model by combining with some in-person flexibility, commonly referred to as the hybrid model. In a hybrid model, staff members can craft their own schedule, eliminate commute times, and choose a more flexible workspace when given the opportunity to work-from-home. Studies show that employees who work remotely reported feeling happier, and people were more productive.
Conversely, quite a few people prefer the traditional in-person option. Oftentimes, there are greater distractions at home that are not conducive for a productive workspace. The hybrid model may provide a range of options to meet everyone’s preferences.
It’s crucial that we recognize the importance of slowly adjusting to our new reality. Be patient and flexible when working with your team members to develop a plan that prioritizes the well-being of your employees and the success of the company. There is a broad spectrum of worker preferences so employers should communicate with employees and find a quality compromise in that prioritizes workplace safety and employee happiness.
If you are contemplating which model to choose for your business, check out some tips below for making the transition.
Tips for Hybrid Model Businesses
- Use a project management software like Microsoft Teams or Trello Workspace to create a shared schedule to determine when people will be in the office or at-home.
- Reconsider assigned desks. “Reduce your desk print,” as Forbes says, and instead add more collaborative seating spaces, two-person pods, and phone booths .
- Be aware of the burden put on your security team to focus their efforts on providing in-network and remote workers protection from hackers. Read more here.
Tips for In-Person Businesses
- Follow CDC Guidelines .
- Provide PPE to your employees.
- Foster an environment where it is encouraged to communicate expectations and preferences when interacting with other people.
Chandler Vaughan, Project Manager, EYOS Fellow