News and updates for in-the-know vintage insurance experts and those who value their talents.
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A Season of Renewal
As spring warms into summer and Covid vaccination rollouts continue across the United States and around the globe, many businesses are looking ahead to their reopening plans.

There will be much to consider. Not only are there safety concerns and general workplace attitude shifts—consider that 87% of employers say they will embrace greater flexibility post-pandemic, with many planning a hybrid workplace model. But as economies slowly reopen and clients budget for future needs, many companies can also expect an influx of business in the coming months

It will be a huge job to figure out how and when to safely reopen. Luckily, there are a few certain steps they can take prior to and during the return to the office to ensure success in the months and years ahead. Here are a few suggestions.

Consider your staff requirements first

As you plan to reopen your office, you should think about what is best for your business and staff. What positions can be flexible or need to be fully in the office; which staff may have family concerns and need to work a few days from home. Bringing staff back to the office will not be an easy task. Some of your staff can’t wait to get back to the office full-time, some will still be afraid of Covid, some will have children whose school is still virtual and/or no summer camp, and some may have decided they only want to work remotely. Should you require that all staff get vaccinated before they can return to the office? How should you handle a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated staff if you do not require a vaccine? What are the CDC guidelines for Covid workplace protocols I need follow? How you accommodate these variables and at the same time move your business forward and keep your staff happy will require a team effort?

Before you reopen, consider reimagining your office space
After you decide on how your staff will operate, you need think about how to reimagine your office space. The US Chamber of Commerce released reopening guidelines for businesses, and many of the suggestions centered around safe gathering areas and social distancing. For example, you may want to consider removing your reception and common-area seating so people aren’t encouraged to congregate unnecessarily, as well as reconfiguring employee workstations to preserve physical distancing recommendations and reduce the necessity of employees having to face one another. On that note, if they must be positioned face to face, consider adding transparent partitions.

Further, you may wish to encourage in-office virtual meetings if more than 10 people and limit necessary in-person meetings to 10 people or fewer. To keep these in-person meetings brief and on point, be sure to generate and distribute agendas in advance, and stick to them.

Consider, too, that you may not even need as much office space as before—or you may not want to use the space you have in the same way. That’s because some form of a hybrid workplace is going to be the new norm, with some employees dividing their time between remote and office-based hours. For example, you may want to convert formerly private desks into public, reservable workstations. You could reimagine conference areas as “huddle” spaces for fewer people, with top-notch video-conferencing capabilities in place to connect in-office and remote workers. These options should be part of a larger conversation about how you (and your employees) envision your future workplace.
Make employee health a priority

Keeping your staff healthy, happy and productive should always be a priority. But during and after a pandemic, it should be at the very top of your list. Not only is it the right thing to do, but according to recent research, a whopping 90% of consumers decide which brands to use by assessing the health and financial security of those brands’ employees. As Forbes put it: “This pandemic has shone a spotlight on the way that companies treat their employees. Anyone who is caught not supplying their workers with completely safe conditions or is seen as not doing enough for their well-being could be quickly publicly shunned.” Forbes goes on to point out that the effects of this public scrutiny can last for years.

Increase your communication

One of the most important factors in a seamless transition to “normal” operations is good communication. In addition to following CDC guidelines for Covid workplace protocols and exposure alerts, you’ll want to ensure you provide a supportive environment for your workers so they feel safe, comfortable and part of a community of people who are all in it together. Consider checking in with town halls to discuss return-to-work protocols  Forbes suggests encouraging employees to sign a “Covid commitment pledge” to publicly commit to following safety protocols at work and in the community. And executives should be sure to sign it, too. Which brings us to the next tip…

Lead by example

The entire C-suite, as well as other executives and managers, should be leading the charge in making the workplace a safe and productive place to be. In addition to following CDC guidelines, leaders should be extra available, transparent and understanding with their staff members during this time. They should also be up to date on the latest Covid research and be willing to answer questions to the best of their knowledge and ability. A successful return to work will begin at the top.

There will be many considerations to address as we look ahead to the future of our workplaces. But with a little help from each other and our communities, I know that we’ll achieve great things together.
Sharon Emek, PhD, CIC
CEO and President, Work At Home Vintage Experts
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Mingling of Generations: Maximizing Your Return to the Office
Early last fall, a LinkedIn post proclaimed that more and more companies were considering pushing their return-to-office plans back from January 2021 to sometime in the middle of that year. Then last October, a New York Times headline proclaimed that “July Is the New January,” with big businesses like Target, Uber and Airbnb officially delaying bringing their workforces back into the office until July 2021. Now, many companies have pushed these plans back even further, eyeing September as their return-to-office target, the Times says.

The thing is, much like everything associated with this virus known as Covid, our knowledge and understanding is constantly evolving. There is no right answer. The most important thing is transparency and communication with your employees and figuring out the right balance of in-office and remote work for all of them.

Some interesting recent research out of PwC can potentially help. The survey, released in January, found that a whopping 87% of employees believe the office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships (which, incidentally, they listed as their top-rated needs for the office). Perhaps most interesting, it was the youngest and least experienced workers who most wished to be in the office. They were “more likely to value meeting with managers or company training programs”—in other words, they benefit greatly from the mentorship and knowledge-transfer opportunities that come with working with more experienced colleagues. Nearly a third of these less-experienced employees wished to be remote no more than one day per week.

That said, 55% of all workers would be prefer to be remote at least three days a week post-pandemic. Only 61% expect to spend half their time in the office by July. So what does this mean for return-to-work planning purposes?

It will be critical to assess the wishes and needs of your workforce as you plan your office reopening. But it would seem, based on this research and on our collective experience, that businesses would be smart to specifically consider the coordination of in-office days among the different generations of staff members in the company. This mingling is where the real magic happens: the mentorship opportunities, the skill-teaching and learning (which goes both ways, as our younger workers have much to impart), the example setting.

There will, of course, be many things to factor in when planning your company’s broad return to the office. But maximizing everyone’s time spent in the office could, in essence, come down to giving them the right opportunities to connect with each other.
WAHVE is an innovative contract talent solution that matches retiring, experienced career professionals with a company's talent needs. WAHVE bridges the gap between an employer's need for highly skilled professional talent and seasoned professionals desiring to extend their career working from home. From screening to placement, WAHVE is a comprehensive solution to qualifying, hiring, and managing experienced remote talent.
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