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Routine Reset: Corporate return to work plans

As more Americans get vaccinated, companies are working to figure out when or if to bring employees back to the office

OHIO, USA — As more Americans are getting vaccinated, companies are working to figure out when or if to bring employees back to the office. 

In many ways, working from home's not been easy. But despite the pitfalls, according to a Harvard Business School survey, about eighty-one percent of employees don't want to go back to the office, or would prefer a hybrid schedule.

As to what employers will do - or when - is a toss.

"There are some members that we have where their structure is set up, where the business requires employees to come back into the workplace," said Pattie Graves. "So not every industry and not every position is going to be conducive to remote work."

Graves is a Knowledge Advisor with the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, which works with HR professionals. She says most of its members are leaning towards hybrid models, with more than two thirds saying they'll be more flexible with employees.

"An employer could allow maybe one day a week for telecommuting, or maybe a couple of days during the week to kind of transition."

In Central Ohio, software company Cover My Meds, is reportedly letting employees "choose" their work arrangement. As is health tech firm Olive, and payment solutions firm Alliance Data.

In Northeast Ohio, Hyland Software is already phasing in some of its 4,000 global employees deemed essential. Although it's leaning towards a hybrid model for the rest.

"Our employees have accomplished so much over the past year virtually, including this kind of incredible newfound collaboration with Hylanders across the world," said Kathleen Vegh, Global Experience AVP. "I think we're viewing flexibility as more of a business strategy than maybe we even have before."

There's no set return date, but its hoping that the campus amenities, which include a daycare, athletic facilities, and a salon, will be an enticement.

"To say, hey, I'm going to go into the office today to do a couple of meetings but also to experience some of the energy and excitement that the campus provides," Vegh explained.

Then there's KeyBank, which kept on about half of its 18,000 employees. Those who went remote will stay there until at least the summer, with a small number coming in on a limited basis.

As for a "formal" return, KeyBank is waiting to see how the pandemic plays out, but like most of SHRM's members...it's implemented safety measures like plexiglass barriers, signage for social distancing, and occupancy limits.

"I think that communication, uh, is going to be critical in helping employees to feel comfortable returning to the workplace," Graves said.

And comfortable employees are what companies believe will give them a competitive edge.

"[At Hyland,] that flexibility is a strategy for us to engage employees, retain employees and then of course attract employees," said Vegh.

*Editor's Note: The video in the player above originally aired on June 19, 2020. 

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