With businesses reopening amidst the COVID-19 uncertainties and fear, employers are sketching out various employee engagement strategies while ensuring their good health, wellness, and safety. Sadly, almost 60% of employers are having trouble with their back-to-workplace strategy.
Arizent conducted the 3rd survey to understand how employers are planning their workplace reopening strategies.
⦁ Almost 48% of the employers are reopening their businesses, and 27% of them were supposedly going to do so during June – August 2020. 25% of the employers, mainly the financial services were planning reopening safely until September 2020. Few others were planning on getting back gradually until May 2021.
- While 92% of the employers were planning to reopen in phases, 6% said they were going to reopen their company completely at once.
- Almost 33% of the bigger companies reportedly planned on reducing their physical working space. This was a significant number compared to the 14% smaller businesses and 9% medium-sized businesses that were planning on the downsizing.
- The 3 primary changes employers were looking to make at the workplace were –
- 76% – reduce the allowable capacity in meeting areas. ⇒
- 60% – reduce desks to allow social distancing
- 40% – installing barriers of plastic, etc.
Followed by other changes like – 28% to change the traffic flow; 24% – Investing more in contactless technology to open elevators and doors.
- The technology gaps while working remotely hindered employee productivity (58%) and technology support – especially for financial service firms (50%) in comparison to the other fields (33%).
- Employers were planning on various technology investments for the next 12 – 18 months –
- 22% – Communications
- 22% – Cloud computing
- 27% – Collaboration tools
- 31% – Cybersecurity
- 34% – Online video conferencing
- Almost 73% of the employers from the total survey respondents were open to provide remote working options if the employee position allows it. 70% of the employers in the financial services and 80% in the professional services agreed with it.
- On the other hand, 48% of employees were very interested to be working from home, while 30% were somewhat interested, and 47% reported that they were working for longer hours.
- There were many challenges linked with the reopening businesses, of which the key ones were –
- 57% – uncertainty about the timing to return to the workplace
- 55% – establishing workplace safety measures
- 50% – employee hesitance to return due to infection fear
- 26% – Employee burnout/mental health issues
Employer Back-to-Workplace Strategies
As the uncertainties and challenges only seem to be rising, employers are looking for other efficient strategies to ensure a healthy and safe back-to-workplace action plan. The 3 key drivers based on which they were planning their workplace return actions were –
- 30% – Employee feedback
- 21% – Avoiding risk strategies
- 13% – Reducing costs
Strategies to avoid risks were preferred by 33% of the bigger companies (more than 1000 employees), and 31% of the medium-sized businesses (100-999 employees). While only 12% of the smaller companies (less than 100 employees) considered risk reductions as the key force to plan their return-to-workplace strategy, 35% of them preferred employee feedback more to develop their action plans.
Many other conclusions were drawn from the current scenario of reopening businesses amidst the COVID-19 crisis. The unforeseen shift to the remote working conditions had disclosed many challenges and technology gaps for the employers and employees that hamper productivity and engagement. Companies need to take adequate measures to ensure employee health and wellness, and avoid any burnout issues. Also, employers need to make sure that employees are having a proper work-life balance, despite having to meet the technology and remote working challenges.