As to the workplace and the pandemic, what now? It’s a question I’ve posed before, but each time, there’s something new on the horizon.
There a lot of uncertainty. Adding to the uncertainty, is the near certainty that the Delta variant will start making more of an impact in this area.
Already, we are seeing cases tick up slightly in Connecticut the last two weeks. And in areas with lesser vaccination rates, the uptick is even more prominent.
All this comes at a time when employers are eager to move on to a next step. Never mind what that next step exactly is — just something…different.
So here are some things for employers to consider as they think about the next steps:
- I suspect this is the summer of the vacation. So it’s unlikely that if you brought people back to the office that everyone would immediately show up anyways. In other words, you have some time the next two months to figure out your next steps.
- More employers are requiring vaccinations, at least to come back to the office. Already, hospitals are indicating that they will be requiring staff to be vaccinated. Private schools too. Thus, consider whether this will work for you; vaccinations solve some (but not all) of the issues regarding returning to the office.
- If you don’t require vaccinations, think further about how exactly you want to maintain a mask policy. For everyone? For everyone just in common areas? Or just the unvaccinated?
- Even if you don’t require vaccinations, consider collecting the information regarding vaccination status (along with the cards). Knowing you are at a 90 percent rate vs. 50 percent rate can make a big difference in your plans. How big an issue do you have to manage?
- If you do mandate vaccinations, consider how you are doing to deal with those who may require an accommodation due to pregnancy, disability or religious belief. Consider further how you will respond to those who say that they are already “immune” because they had COVID-19.
- And finally, consider whether some caution remains advised. This Delta variant has already shown itself to be far more contagious than prior strains. Introducing it into the confined space of an office is sure to cause issues. Being conservative in reopening right now may also prevent you from having to reverse course in 6 to 8 weeks.
We’ve made a lot of progress this year in the fight against COVID-19 but we’re not quite done yet. The next six months will bring a new set of issues and questions to deal with.