Return to Work Roadmap

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Restrictions across the country are lifting and easing and there is a myriad of regulation that varies from state to state, city to city, and/or county to county.

Currently as many as 13 states have legislation either in play or pending related COVID-19 vaccines and what can, or cannot, be required. We have leaves of absence and paid sick time for COVID-19 related reasons that range from voluntary to required, and again can change as quickly as the city or county line. 

If this seems like a lot to manage, that is because it is and if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that change is our one true constant. So, as employers how do we prepare to return to the workplace safely while maintaining our teams and our culture? With studies providing information on employees wanting to remain fully remote, or at the very least a hybrid schedule, how do we accommodate and make the best business decision? What are the top items we should be reviewing, considering, managing, and planning for as we make this shift?

· Realize this will not be easy. Life has been hard for the past 15 months and the return to the office will not be any different. It is perfectly okay for us to sit down and admit this is going to be a challenge. We discuss the pain points and ‘burning’ items for our specific group, and then… we strategically plan.

· Identify the pain points. These may very well look different from organization to organization, location to location, or even department to department. 

  • Remote/Hybrid and in the workplace: Many of us were of the mindset that certain jobs could not be done remotely, and then COVID happened. We ate a piece of humble pie as we adapted to make things work. Others of us quickly learned that we were right in our thinking, and that certain jobs are required to be conducted in the physical work location.  
  • Loss of connectivity: We may be challenged with a workforce that wants to remain fully remote, while as operators we are struggling with the loss of connection rather than productivity. 
  • Wage & Hour Issues: While working from home, many of us struggled to stop working. The ‘there is nothing on TV so I guess I can knock out these emails or this pending project’ way of life may be leading to issues with wage and hour compliance. We are not there to physically monitor and oversee working time or meal and rest breaks. For our hourly and non-exempt population, this can create significant issues. 
  • Safety Concerns: Even though the reopening is upon us, we have all been living a very different life for more than a year and not everyone is roaring to mingle. Concerns about safety in the workplace are a real issue.

· Lean on your Resources. There are rules and regulations that were passed at warp speed and continue to change. Remember Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards and the revised rules that were declined, passed, and then withdrawn. There is a lot to navigate here, and prior to making any final decisions, these plans should be reviewed and discussed with TPPS or other trusted advisors. 

· Strategize as a Team. Have the tough conversations and create a plan together. Getting buy-in and opinion from your teams and employees will make this transition smoother. This is not to say that we concede to things that do not serve the business needs but listening to our employees here can be a critical turning point in our planning. When we cannot accommodate, communicate. Let employees know that they are heard and that we are striving to make the best business decisions and provide reasoning for those decisions if necessary. 

Remember that these are unprecedented times and that you are not alone. TPPS is here to assist and to build this roadmap with you. 

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