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More than two-thirds (67%) of organizations plan to resume, or have already resumed, “normal” operations by end of summer. This is a key takeaway from The Back to Work Playbook survey conducted by WorldatWork and HALO Recognition. The survey also addressed 1) which preventative safety measures are being implemented or are under consideration; 2) whether organizations are providing personal protective equipment (PPE); 3) whether penalties will be given for safety infractions; 4) if business travel will resume soon; 5) accommodations being made for employees with children to continue working from home; and 6) whether companies are creating contingency plans in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence; among other topics. 

Key findings:

  • Most organizations believe it will be safe to return to the workplace this summer with enhanced cleaning, sanitation and PPE protocols in place: 17% are currently operating normally; 25% will do so in June; 19% in July, 6% in August; and only 13% are deferring normal operations until 2021.
  • The primary focus for return to work planning is on practices to ensure the safety and health of employees, with nearly one third planning to implement employee reengagement initiatives.
  • Organizations are implementing or considering implementing various preventative measures including additional cleaning (85%), limiting size of meetings/banning meeting spaces (83%), adding more space/barriers around office (67%), requiring employees to wear masks (64%), and temperatures screenings before entering (52%), among others.
  • Remote working arrangements and flexible work schedules are here to stay, particularly for employees with children: half (50%) of organizations are permanently allowing some employees to work remotely and for employees with children, 81% of organizations are allowing them to continue working remotely and 73% are offering flexible work schedules.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of organizations will provide employees with PPE; 28% are not sure and 9% will not.
  • Three-quarters of organizations will regularly monitor behavior of employees; 29% expect employees to report violations (anonymously or not); 10% will use formal penalties.
  • 56% of organizations say that business travel will resume, but only on a limited basis for essential matters; 24% say business travel will not resume for the foreseeable future.

“In addition to highlighting the varied methods companies will utilize to keep employees safe, this survey demonstrates that organizations are quickly adapting to the new workplace,” said Scott Cawood, President and CEO, WorldatWork. “This crisis has shown, importantly, just how nimble organizations can be when they need to be. Organizations can make rapid, sweeping changes when an emergency requires it. Hopefully, once we are past the crisis, this key learning will stay with us and alter our assumptions about how long it takes to make decisions.”

“Employee safety and wellbeing have always been critical priorities for organizations, but now more than ever, keeping employees safe is the main focus as they return to the workplace,” said Jeffrey Fina, Chief Customer Officer, HALO Recognition. “We’ve shipped millions of masks and other PPE equipment to help support our customers’ initiatives, and remote appreciation is a big part of the new ‘work-from-anywhere’ mindset.”