Employees are working safely from the confines of their respective homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many business owners plan to reopen their doors in the immediate future. While there’s a rush to “get back to work,” you, as your team’s leader, may want to tap the brakes.
You may be ready to return to work tomorrow, but what about your employees? Have you discussed reopening the office with them? What are their thoughts? What’s going to hold them back from reporting to work?
Before asking your employees to return to their desks during the COVID-19 crisis, you may want to consider a few of their common concerns first.
Employees don’t want to be forced to choose between health and livelihood. Even though states are reopening their economies, people are afraid of returning to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some employees don’t feel safe leaving their homes. Despite their employers agreeing to implement safety precautions, employees don’t feel it’s necessary to risk the health and safety of their families, friends, and colleagues when there are alternative working arrangements available to them.
Think about your employees’ households for a minute. How many of your employees have children at home? Are any of your employees single parents? What are they going to do if you force them to return to the office when child care options are limited? COVID-19 has essentially created a child care crisis in the country. If child care options remain closed when shelter-in-place orders are lifted, employees with children will likely face obstacles when asked by their employers to return to work. Can the economy reopen without child care options available to employees with children?
Is it possible for your employees to maintain social distancing guidelines when they return?
Employees more than likely won’t be able to maintain social distancing guidelines when returning to work. Not the way office layouts are today. Many offices today aren’t set up to promote social distancing (at least, not yet). In the pre-COVID-19 world, employers crammed their employees into smaller spaces. Maximizing office space to accommodate as many employees as possible is a thing of the past. Your employees will now pay closer attention to their immediate surroundings at work and expect spacious workstations. Some may even rely on new technologies to ensure their coworkers are keeping a safe distance. Is your office space today designed to encourage social distancing?
With all that’s going on, it may be better for you to hold off on reopening your office until you can adequately address your employees’ concerns, especially when many of them are more productive at home.
Instead of wasting time on long commutes, avoiding distractions from coworkers, and sitting in on endless meetings, employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic are getting things done. Despite the downsides of working from home (loneliness being one of them), many workers (54 percent) are more productive, according to a report conducted by YouGov in partnership with USA Today and LinkedIn.
So, if employees are still productive at home, should you be in such a rush to open your doors and demand they report back to their workspaces?
It’s up to you but remember: Your employees will remember how you lead in times of crisis.