Some employees worked on-site during the pandemic, some have returned to the office; however, for those still planning their return, developing a strategy is critical to ensure success and the safety of all staff. All successful programs require planning and a strategy to understand the changes in the workplace. Employers will need to communicate to employees whether they will return to the workplace every workday or have a flexible schedule. A three-step approach as outlined below will help employers return their staff successfully.
Communicate the Flexible Work Schedule Policy
Following the drafting and approval of a flexible work policy employees will need to be informed as to what will be required of them upon their return. A policy explaining the employer’s approach with respect to vaccinations, mask-wearing, frequent handwashing, travel precautions and a procedure for informing management of compliance issues will need to documented and then communicated to the employees. A procedure for rectifying non-compliance should also be explored and shared with the returning employees. Once approved, the Employee Handbook should be modified to include this new policy so that all team members are aware of the changes.
Whether returning to in-person work, adopting a hybrid work arrangement or allowing some staff to continue to work remotely, an employer should be able to clearly explain to its workforce the new work schedule policy, the rationale behind the policy and why some employee classifications may have more job flexibility than others. Explaining the policy clearly will eliminate any misunderstanding or perceptions of favoritism. Clearly articulating that working remotely is a privilege and if someone is not performing or is needed in the office, either part time or full time a change in the work schedule may be the result.