As India faces the worst surge of the virus, here in Minneapolis, we are getting ready for one more lifting of restrictions. As COVID-19 infections rise and fall location to location, we are all looking for positive elements in both the near and long term related to our personal and work lives. The debate between and within many companies on work models continues, and with so much to consider, the employee and employer relationship may take on some new dance moves. Consider a few of these recent headline articles:

"Tensions rise as return-to-work plans gain steam" is the article from CNBC that we linked to below and is the one that got this post started. The article taps into research shared by the Pew Research Center which reveals that while only one-in-five say they worked from home all or most of the time prior to the pandemic, now, 71% of those workers are doing their job from home all or most of the time. And more than half say, given a choice, they would want to keep working from home even after the pandemic.

Then, from HR Grapevine, "Over 60% UK staff don't want to return to office until colleagues are vaccinated", highlights the anxiety that many are feeling as discussion of returning to the office becomes more real in the near future. The idea of commuting and being face-to-face at this point still creates concern for so many employees. 

As employees and companies consider the options, there are many things to evaluate. In a recent newsletter from Talent Culture, Meghan Biro sums things up nicely by saying:

"The return to work isn’t all about safety protocols and designing a hybrid work schedule that allows people the flexibility they’ve come to enjoy the last 15 months. The return to work, in fact, forces us to think about many issues, including resuming our commutes, how best to care for those humans and pets who have enjoyed having us home, maintaining our focus on the social issues that have surfaced since the pandemic began, and so much more."

So what is your company going to do?  Human Resource Executive's article, "Requiring employees to return to the office? Get ready for them to quit" challenges that, "Employers considering bringing their employees back into the office might want to reconsider!" According to Flexjobs, 3 in 5 people say they “absolutely” will look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position. Only 11% say not being able to continue working remotely is not a big deal to them. Two-thirds of those saying they would leave want to work remotely full time, while the other third is fine with a hybrid arrangement.

A second article from Human Resource Executive, "Employee anxiety about returning to the office is sky-high. Now what?" shares additional data from Limeade. The survey respondents were from the UK, U.S., France, Germany and Australia, and 100% indicated that they were anxious about returning to the workplace specifically due to concerns of being exposed to the virus, having less flexibility and commuting to work.

As so many companies continue to move back toward pre-pandemic work models, it will be interesting to see how employees respond. If some of this survey data is correct, many employees will be moving on!