Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 12, 2021

Career Corner: Safe in-person return to work might be pronlem for employers

Business owners and managers are beginning to worry. And, it’s not what you’d think.

With the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations accelerating, so is the number of workers who can more safely return to their workplaces. This should be great news.

The problem is, the pandemic has gone on for an entire year, and many workers have proven they can work from home.

Many workers are considering a move to a cheaper city where their money will go further. Some have already moved to be closer to family.

Many of those who have remained in place have discovered the advantages of working from home, including time saved on eliminated commutes and more flexibility overall. That flexibility is providing some added level of work-life balance.

But, as hurdles to return to the office are lowered, many employers who want their employees to return to in-person work have a tough road ahead.

How will they make the case? Typically, that conversation will focus on collaboration. To be creative and productive, we need to be together.

In fairness, remote collaboration is difficult. We have been disconnected. We’ve been fighting every day to make things as normal as possible in the most unusual of circumstances. We have lived through isolation, health issues, home schooling and, in some cases, loss.

But we’ve done it. We are still getting up every day, still fighting and still working.

A weight will be lifted when things do go back to normal. Children will go back to school. We will be able to socialize. We won’t have to worry so much. And productivity will increase.

Before the pandemic, many companies already allowed employees to work from home. One observed that employees who joined their company from a traditional brick and mortar organization took time to adjust. In fact, it took a year, in many cases.

Maybe that’s what we’ve been experiencing: an adjustment year. And we did it, despite many challenges.

If you’re a manager, consider this: Employees are often happier working from home. They’re typically more productive.

And, frankly, it’s cheaper for the company. You no longer have to pay for all that expensive office space. And, it opens your hiring options up to the entire country.

In many cases, in person work is more about control and less about results.

If you force people to come back, be sure you have good reasons. Talk to your employees. Listen to what they want. Ask them if they’ve been more productive at home.

If you don’t, you may lose some of your people. After all, employees want choices. And, there are plenty of companies willing to give them choices in today’s working environment.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.