New research from The Conference Board tells us that only 59 percent of U.S. organizations that participated in their recent study surveyed employees about their level of readiness and comfort returning to a physical workspace.
Although we all hope to achieve a new normal sooner rather than later, the survey results suggest that we may be in for a long, uncertain road ahead:
- 39 percent of U.S. companies plan to reopen by the first quarter of 2021.
- 35 percent say the timing of when their company will reopen the workplace is unknown.
- The highest levels of uncertainty: Miami (46%), Seattle (43%), San Diego (42%), Washington, DC (41%), and San Francisco (41%).
- Only 5 percent say wide availability of vaccine would guide reopening plans.
The most frequent actions businesses are taking to safeguard their workers include purchasing equipment (e.g., masks, thermometers, contactless entry devices, sanitization devices), creating new workplace policies requiring social distancing, and deep cleaning or disinfecting work spaces.
The takeaway? Organizations and employees must remain resilient and flexible, as the future is truly unknown. And while some organizations are being inclusive and asking employees their thoughts before making decisions about re-opening, many are not, which does nothing to foster a two-way communication culture and increase employee engagement.
JILL, WHAT CAN I DO? If your organization is not seeking input from employees about re-opening plans, encourage it to do so. Many remote workers are saying that the physical distance is causing them to feel disconnected and neglected. Therefore, consider conducting a Back to Work Readiness Survey to gauge their level of readiness and comfort returning to a physical workspace. COVID has disrupted our world enough. The last thing we need to come out of this with is a workforce that is more disengaged than they were in 2019.