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Back To Workplace Solutions

This Herman Trend Alert gives caring employers the answers to bringing people back to the workplace safely and securely.


Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html

Two months ago, I believed that folks would be so happy to return to work that they would be joyful. Boy, was I wrong! The arrival of the Delta and Lambda Variants and the effect of low vaccination in some areas changed the outcome I was expecting. The politicization of vaccination has been a disaster in the United States, which in spite of being 4 percent of the world’s population, makes up almost 25 percent of the world’s COVID cases by themselves. In the US, we are having “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”


Now, instead of looking forward to going back to congregate workspaces, employees are dreading it. An increasing number of people is resisting the idea of returning to shared offices. Employers are resorting to mandating vaccinations, and they are losing a small percentage of employees who simply will not comply. This Herman Trend Alert is dedicated to giving caring employers the answers to bringing people back to the workplace safely and securely.

The Research Reflects their Discomfort
According to research conducted by the Society for Human Research Management (SHRM) in June 2021, U.S. employees would feel more comfortable going back to work … if only about 50 percent of employees were working in their regular offices. Second, 36 percent of them were looking for their companies to have additional organizational policies and procedures; and finally, 35 percent of the respondents would feel more comfortable if everyone (customers and employees) would engage in social distancing.


Solutions from All Kinds of Companies
The following examples are models for attracting people back to offices safely.

Separate and Not Equal. VicoSoft, a mattress and bedding manufacturer located in Charlotte, North Carolina, came up with an innovative solution. VicoSoft now has two break rooms: one for people who are vaccinated; another for those who are not. One has more room and features barriers and partitions, while the other one looks like a pre-pandemic breakroom. The company allows people to self-select the environment most comfortable for them – and that should also reduce stress and the platform for conflict among employees.

Fitness and Fun. The Flatiron School is an in-person and online bootcamp for software development. Their new onsite Peloton bike is having the desired effect – to entice people back to working in the office. Moreover, a few months ago, the school started holding hackathons for students and alumni. Both groups sincerely enjoy the fun and engaging activities. It’s a chance to relax and enjoy less serious and formal pursuits together.


But Wait, There’s More! A few other solutions some companies have implemented: plastic barriers between desks, spacing desks out with greater distances between them, and alternating schedules. Plus, one company FairyGodBoss.com is allowing unvaccinated employees to continue to work from home and only people with vaccinations are allowed in the workplace. A growing number of companies is wisely mandating vaccination for folks who want to work for or patronize their establishments.

Me On my Soapbox
With fewer than 1 percent of vaccinated people dying from COVID, it is difficult to argue with science. Yet many folks still do. Please readers, I urge you, get vaccinated. If not for yourself, then for the rest of us who would rather not spread the disease. We eradicated Smallpox; we can conquer COVID, but not without your help! As I have said before, this problem is not going away; the novel influenza which is COVID will evolve and morph. I just pray that our medical communities can stay ahead of the curve.


Special thanks to the HR Today people at SHRM.org for their source material for part of this Herman Trend Alert. To read the entire article, visit here.

Next Week’s Herman Trend Alert: Solving the Issues of Remote Employees
Bridging the gap between employees who still want to work remotely and employers who want them in the office will require compromise on both sides. Next week’s Alert will offer strategies and tactics for managing this thorny issue.

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