After more than a year of navigating the sudden impacts of COVID-19 on employees around the world, we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccination rates are up—with over 50% of American adults having received at least one dose—daily virus case totals have dramatically declined, and many organizations are putting large-scale return-to-work plans in motion.
As employees return to onsite work, whether full time or as part of a hybrid model, management teams everywhere share a top priority: the health and safety of their workforces. Although many organizations have been planning their return-to-work strategies for over a year, the landscape today is vastly different than it was even a few months ago. With restrictions relaxing and workers increasingly returning in person, it's more important than ever to know how you'll keep your workforce safe through the end of 2021 and beyond. Here are the most important things to keep in mind for a safe return to work:
1. There is still uncertainty about the future response to COVID-19.
In many ways, we don’t know what we don’t know. Will a COVID-19 booster shot be recommended? What challenges might the reopening of schools in the fall bring? Or flu season in the winter? It’s also important to keep in mind the possibility of breakthrough cases of the virus in vaccinated people. The unknown doesn’t have to be scary, though—organizations can prepare themselves now by putting in place the right workforce safety solutions to quickly respond to a variety of scenarios.
2. Comfort levels with onsite work vary widely.
While some may be ready to jump back into onsite work with two feet, for a number of reasons, others are more reticent. Developing a strong workforce safety plan puts everyone at ease. Your employees are more likely to feel comfortable returning to the office if they are confident that their workplace is taking their health and safety seriously, and if they can trust that you have taken preventative measures and are prepared to handle situations as they arise.
3. Travel is ramping up.
With more and more places around the world seeing the virus begin to retreat, people are resuming the vacations and work travel they’d previously paused. Many are finally reuniting with loved ones they haven’t seen in over a year. All of this is great news, but it does come with some amount of risk attached. Coronavirus rates vary from region to region, and having a system in place to stay aware of employee travel, particularly to higher risk areas, will remain important.
4. Workforce safety goes beyond COVID-19.
People’s expectations for workplace hygiene have changed. Widespread protective measures led to a sharp decline in US flu cases this past winter, and according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of these mitigation measures may play a role in decreasing future flu transmission, as well. Employers are now armed with the knowledge to protect their workers, to an extent, from other communicable diseases, like the flu and the common cold—and many employees will expect them to. Social distancing, contact tracing, and mask wearing may come to be normalized in the prevention of diseases much less novel than COVID, and with the right workforce safety plan, you’ll be able to easily adapt.
So, what can you do now to start or strengthen your organization’s return-to-work plan? The Appian Workforce Safety solution offers a unified, automated, and flexible approach, including incident case management, contact tracing, vaccination insights, and more. For more information on Appian Workforce Safety, request a demo today.