As the nation’s employers consider how to reopen their offices following stay-at-home shutdowns triggered by the Coronavirus pandemic, many are facing challenges regarding how to modify or extend current work from home (WFH) policies, including hiring private eyes to monitor employees, accommodating flexibility due to child care, and dealing with the mental health of isolated workers. Going forward, employers must protect their workers while also figuring out how best to do business, according to one workplace authority.
“First and foremost, employers have a moral and ethical obligation to protect their workers, their families, and their communities,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of global outplacement and executive and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
“Employers will need to be ready to handle the inevitable requests to continue working from home, especially as states start to reopen without proven treatment or a vaccine. In addition to working toward making employees comfortable, employers will also need to protect employees’ privacy when it comes to health, family, and age issues.
“Workers are attempting to protect their own families and their jobs, as millions file for unemployment and hundreds of thousands fall ill,” he added.
While the American death toll from the virus reaches 94,000, some restrictions have started to ease in every state in the U.S., as businesses such as salons and restaurants begin to reopen. Still, most states’ executive orders require that if the work can be done from home, it must. In a recent Challenger survey, 28% of employers reported they would make WFH accommodations permanent for some of their workers, while another 27% said they would leave COVID-related WFH policies in place for workers until they are comfortable returning. Another 6% said they would make these accommodations permanent for all workers.
In fact, Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, announced his workforce could WFH “forever.” This pronouncement is a step further than Google and Facebook, which recently announced workers could WFH until the end of the year.
One of the biggest barriers to returning to the office for many employees is child care. In recent days, many colleges, universities, high schools, and primary schools across the country announced they will continue remote learning into the fall, with some schools stating that their plans to resume in-person classes extend past the new year. According to Education Week, at least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools and a minimum of 55.1 million students have been affected by school closures during the pandemic.