30% state that their organisation is not ready for the return of workers
Majority (66%) believe some workers will refuse to return to the office
A survey of over 200 HR professionals from both the public and private sectors shows that while 70% state that their organisation is prepared for a return to the office, 66% believe that some employees will simply refuse to return to the centralised workplace. The survey was carried out a recent webinar looking at the challenges for employers as they contemplate the return of workers to centralised offices.
“The partial re-opening of offices from 20 September and the full return on 22 October will present challenges for both employers and employees. As the results of our survey show, even if organisations are well prepared for the return of employees, there will inevitably be challenges with employees who don’t want to return, the bedding down of hybrid working practices and the fact that employers can’t ask employees whether they are vaccinated”, commented Melanie Crowley, Head of Employment Law, Mason Hayes & Curran LLP.
“To ensure that employees feel confident in any measures taken by organisations, it’s important that all employers are familiar with the Government’s Work Safely Protocol which sets out the minimum requirements needed in all workplaces to reduce the spread of COVID-19”, continued Ms. Crowley. “Employers will also need to work with a Health & Safety consultant to carry out an updated risk assessment of their working practices and, more importantly, their workplaces, especially considering that many offices will have been operating at a severely reduced capacity in recent months.”
A majority of those surveyed would favour an update to the Work Safely Protocol, with 68% supportive of social distancing measures in the workplace being reduced from 2 metres to 1 metre. “The reduction from 2 metres to 1 metre would certainly make it easier for employers to bring people back into offices in a more significant way”, said Ger Connolly, Employment Law Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran LLP. “But it remains to be seen if the Government will update their protocols ahead of the larger re-opening of society on 22 October.”
In terms of measures that can be taken to make employees who are hesitant to return to the office more comfortable, 46% of those surveyed stated that they were considering introducing staggered start/ finish times to allow employees avoid public transport at rush hours. “Allowing staff to stagger their start and finish times can be an effective way of allowing them to avoid crowded buses and trains at rush hour”, continued Mr. Connolly. “A measure such as this may go a long way to assuaging the concerns of returning employees.”
For more on the Vaccinations & Returning to Work webinar, please click here.