Increased vaccine distribution provides a glimmer of hope for the future of society. Now, business leaders are faced with the lingering question: When should we bring employees back into the office?
In just New York City, 45% of office workers are expected to return to the workplace by September. However, companies will need to make crucial changes in order to make this transition seamless as possible, while still incorporating the lessons learned from the past year.
This should start with addressing vaccine hesitancy. A March poll from Kaiser Health found that 13% of Americans do not plan on getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
Business leaders have a right to require vaccination before allowing workers to return to the office, but most are avoiding this type of mandate due to potential backlash. A February survey of 1,000 in-house lawyers, HR professionals and executives found that a mere 6% will require vaccination, but 90% will “encourage” vaccination.
Some companies are incentivizing employees to get vaccinated. For instance, Dollar General and Trader Joe’s have offered extra hours of pay.
Once vaccine policies have been laid out, companies will need to navigate their workplace operations. For many, this means adopting a hybrid model that allows for both remote and in-person arrangements.
Microsoft is one example of a company that is pivoting to a hybrid approach, with its “Hybrid Workplace Dial” that allows the firm to adjust its timeline based on data about when disease is improving and when it may be burdening a certain area.