With the COVID-19 Delta variant continuing to spread, many organizations are reconsidering their plans when it comes to on-site employees this fall.
As NPR notes in the article below, The New York Times indefinitely postponed its planned return to the office. Additionally, retailers such as Walmart, Kroger and Publix are once again requiring workers to wear masks within stores.
If it feels like making plans related to the pandemic is a moving target, that’s because it is. No one can say with exact certainty what’s coming next, so officials simply have to make the best possible decisions with the information that’s available. That’s why things like mask mandates and social distancing requirements are popping back up again suddenly in some locations.
All of this is a good reason to focus more on short-term strategy rather than long-term strategy for now. When we wrote about the mobility “recovery” process at the beginning of this year, we suggested looking at six- or even three-month blocks of time as opposed to planning for a full year. This allows mobility teams to stay nimble and adjust to new challenges — like the spread of the Delta variant — as they arise.
Part of this also means being able to shift away from plans, even those you’ve poured a lot of time and energy into. Many teams are exploring reentry strategies, and many employees have returned to the office throughout 2021. But as NPR notes, organizations are maintaining flexibility when it comes to on-site employees. For example, Twitter closed down offices that had recently reopened, and Google announced a delay for its return-to-office date for most employees from September to October.
It’s not a bad idea to plan for what your organization’s future work model might look like — whether that’s fully remote, fully back in the office, or a hybrid of the two. However, savvy HR and mobility teams are meshing a long-term view of work models with the short-term ability to pivot quickly when needed.
In the span of just a week, plans for a September return to the office have been pushed back. Mask mandates have made a comeback. And a growing number of employers, including the federal government, are laying down the line on vaccines ... The delta variant is much more transmissible, and health officials are concerned it may also make people sicker and can even be spread by fully vaccinated individuals. That means, almost a year and a half into the pandemic, companies are facing a difficult task of yet again recalibrating what steps are necessary to keep workers safe.