With a seeming lull in COVID variants, executives are pushing employees to return to the physical workplace. In fact, research on annual work trends reveals that half of the company leaders surveyed said they already require or will require employees to come back to the office full-time. After 2+ years of remote or hybrid work, human resources departments are adjusting to new challenges and pushback from employees who still desire flexibility.
Here are some of the new challenges faced by HR with the return to the workplace.
Long COVID is a term used for symptoms that remain for more than four weeks and could affect up to 10 - 30% of those who contracted COVID-19. Those who have these symptoms may suffer for months or even years, often preventing a person from working at all. HR managers are faced with making accommodations for those with long COVID, including offering remote options, paid leave or integrating collaborative work systems.
Reluctance to Return to the Office Full-Time
Many employees found that their lives were better with remote work. Fortune Magazine surveyed employees and found that nearly half of those surveyed said they would quit if forced to return to the office full-time. This trend proved even more so with younger workers. The pandemic shook things up for employers but many workers recognized that they could still get their job done, in spite of it. The employee revolution is putting HR managers on the task to figure out how to retain employees who still desire flexible options.
Mental Health Challenges
McKinsey reports that one-third of employees surveyed last year said that the return to the physical workplace affected their mental health. Workers feel exhausted by what's happened in the past few years and the adjustment has simply been too much. HR managers are adapting with additional focus on physical wellness and mental wellness, the extension of benefits to cover paid leave and medical insurance, and the provision of vaccinations or COVID safety protocols. Supervisors are also requiring more training to help their staff navigate new personal difficulties that they didn't have before March of 2020.
All in all, the employers requiring a total return to the workplace are tasking human resources with solving challenges they've not encountered before. Employees are still concerned about the spread of the virus, leaving the comfort of their home offices and increased depression from the events of the past few years. As per their name, HR must provide the resources to help bring comfort to the humans coming back to the office.