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How Employers Can Manage a Return to the Office Amid Renewed COVID-19 Concerns

  • While many companies expected to return to in-office work around Labor Day, a new surge of COVID-19 upended these plans
  • Gallup officials discuss the issues facing employers as remote arrangements remain common
  • How companies can more forward as flexibility becomes a more crucial benefit for employees

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines accelerated earlier this year, many businesses set the week of Labor Day as their goal for resuming in-person work. A new spike of COVID-19 cases, driven by the virus’s Delta variant, upended these plans and has prolonged remote work arrangements.

In a recently released podcast, Gallup featured Lydia Saad, its director of U.S. social research, and Ben Wigert, its director of research and strategy for workplace management. The episode looked at what factors employers should take into consideration due to the Delta delay.

  • It is estimated that half of the U.S. workforce continues to work remotely, with about three in 10 working a hybrid schedule that balances in-person and remote work
  • Broad support remains for hybrid work models, with about 70 percent of workers supporting this option
  • About nine out of 10 workers want flexible work schedules to continue, and about three out of 10 say they’ll consider looking for work elsewhere if their employer enacts stricter scheduling
  • While employers and employees generally agree on the need for more flexible work arrangements, they also need to find ways to arrange schedules to avoid work disruptions and maximize in-person collaboration
  • The duo said it remains to be seen whether a federal vaccine mandate for most companies will help minimize the risk of worker departures over the issue, since employees would have more difficulty finding a company where the vaccine is not required
  • New England has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases despite its high vaccination rates; Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s chief medical advisor, recommends that indoor mask wearing and vaccine mandates in the region could help minimize the impact of the Delta surge

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