A phased approach is the top choice for employers who are bringing employees back to the workplace, says a Conference Board report

Only eight per cent of organizations are fully prepared to re-open, according to a survey released Monday by the Conference Board of Canada.

The Working Through Covid-19 – Return to Work Survey said a phased approach is the top choice for employers who are bringing employees back to the workplace. Other top measures that are being implemented are restricting the number of people on site and controlling on-site movement.

“For employees returning to workplaces, safety will be paramount. The virus will likely find loopholes in safety measures we put in place,” said Allison Cowan, Director Human Capital at The Conference Board of Canada. “Employers will need to continually adapt, and this could include bringing employees back and then having to close workplaces again.”

The conference board said most organizations will ask employees at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to remain home; with schools and family support services closed, many organizations have indicated that employees with caregiving responsibilities would also be exempt from returning to the workplace; and many organizations surveyed indicated a shift to remote work post-pandemic. 

“Employers are telling us it’s too early to make decisions about what will be in place long-term. This crisis has presented an opportunity to re-think traditional work,” said the report, which surveyed 294 organizations. 

“Throughout the pandemic, many  employees have been working  remotely. With easing restrictions, employers must consider whether  they will be calling these employees  back to the workplace.  Despite only a small portion of employers currently fully  prepared to reopen, 40 per cent will require employees  currently working remotely to return to the workplace in  some capacity. This is most common in transportation and  warehousing, where 58 per cent of employers have taken this approach,” said the survey.

“Not surprisingly, approximately half of organizations in  educational services, as well as in health care and social  assistance, will be calling employees back to the workplace. Public and private sector organizations are taking similar approaches, with roughly 40 per cent of  organizations in both sectors bringing employees back to  work in some capacity.” 

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