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Businesses Returning to Office: How You Can Prepare

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Are you ready to go back to work in the office? There is still enough time to prepare yourself to look your best. In-person interactions need you to be more polished than you are in Zoom meetings. Get an appointment with your hairstylist for a business-appropriate cut. Visit a trusted cosmetic dentist and a dermatologist if you need to. Looking presentable boosts confidence – not just your confidence in yourself but also your employees’ confidence in you. At this time of crisis, confidence is vital.

This is assuming that you are already fully vaccinated as you should have been. If not, that is your first order of business. As a company leader, you must be the first to set an example for your employees.

Vaccination of Employees

As of September 1, only 52.4 percent of Americans have full vaccinations against Covid 19. On August 23, President Joseph Biden called on private companies to require their employees to get vaccinated against Covid 19 after Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine earned full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In July, the president required all federal workers to get full vaccination; otherwise, they must continue to wear masks and undergo regular testing. He urged private companies to do the same.

Many companies are already following suit. United Airlines, The Walt Disney Company, The Washington Post, Amtrak, CVS Health are requiring all their employees and new hires to be vaccinated. Tyson Foods is requiring all of its employees based in the U.S. to be vaccinated. Netflix requires vaccination for all the production cast and set workers.

Frontier Airlines and Walgreens are requiring their employees to get vaccinated or else undergo regular testing. MGM Resorts International requires all employees working even part-time on-site to get vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees need to pay for regular testing.

Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, Union Square Hospitality Group are only allowing fully vaccinated employees and guests to enter their offices. Microsoft will require vaccination from its employees, vendors, and guests once it opens its offices.

The New York Times, Twitter, Lyft, Uber, Citigroup, Deloitte, Cisco, Salesforce, Morgan Stanley, ViacomCBS, DoorDash, Anthem, Jefferies are only allowing fully vaccinated employees to enter their offices. Others must work from home. Google, Facebook, NBCUniversal, Saks will only allow fully vaccinated employees to enter their offices once these reopen.

McDonald’s is requiring vaccination from its office-based U.S. employees but not from those working in its restaurants. Walmart is requiring vaccination from its corporate employees but not from those working in its stores and warehouses. Delta Air Lines is requiring only new hires in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated. Ford is requiring only employees who go on international business travels to get vaccinated.


Apart from the mandates, incentives are offered by some companies to motivate their employees to get vaccinated. McDonald’s, Target, Walmart, and American Airlines offer cash bonuses and paid time off.

When to Return to Work

According to CNBC, the COVID-19 delta variant is causing cases to rise across the country. Companies are split on whether to return to work in the last quarter of 2021 or later. A flash survey among members of the CNBC Workforce Executive Council (WEC) from July 28 to July 30 showed that the increase in Covid 19 cases is not affecting the decision of 40 percent to return to office work. A majority of them are human resources leaders in companies with over 10,000 employees.

Wells Fargo, NBCUniversal, and BlackRock are postponing their back-to-office schedule from September to October. ViacomCBS plans to have most of its employees working in the office not earlier than October 18. Google plans to reopen its offices in the fall.

Facebook and Amazon are postponing their corporate personnel’s back-to-office schedule to January 2022. Lyft is postponing its back-to-office schedule to February 2022. The New York Times will be postponing its office reopening from September to an undisclosed date.

Employee Retention

Another factor that businesses must consider these days is employee retention. Results from the Employee Engagement and Retention Report as reported by Forbes shows that in 2021, 52 percent of employees in the U.S. plan to look for a new job. Research also shows that most or 99 percent of employees want to work from home for life.

It is difficult enough to gain new momentum in the crisis situation. To try to do so with a large number of new employees that need training will consume a lot of resources – both in time, energy, and finances. Holding on to the best talent by giving the optimum employee experience is a sound financial investment for any company.

So, instead of giving threats, it is best for a company to offer highly attractive incentives for vaccination. It will also help retain employees if the company offers long-term remote work and hybrid arrangement options for those who prefer these. The schedule for returning to the office will then depend on the percentage of employees who want to work on-site. This may even save on costs if only a few choose to work in the office and the business can move into a smaller space. This is the best way to prepare for going back to the office.

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