According to the PR firm Edelman, only fifty percent of employees in the US deem their office spaces safe. August data from the Edelman Trust Barometer concludes that there are big trust issues with return to the workplace: there is no agreement among employees on essential measures that would enable a safe return to the workplace, no consensus on the authority for return to work decisions, and nearly 74% employees feel confident that they can work from home for the long haul without hurting their careers.
So what is a company to do if they believe it is necessary to have employees go back to the workplace now?
Companies must continue to communicate and set proper expectations with employees. But inevitably there will be discrepancies between the comfort levels of the workplace between employer and employee. And, it’s almost always up to the employee communications team to help smooth the way.
Here’s some advice from The Hartford’s VP of Internal and CEO Communications, Paula Angelo, on how her team is managing the dialogue.
One other approach is to leverage transparency - sharing key data and metrics with employees to help increase their comfort level with returning to the office. At the Mayo Clinic, Sara Messina’s communications team reminds her staff that their protocols and procedures are working very well. “We have extremely low exposure in our offices,” she says. In fact, it’s likely that being onsite at the Mayo Clinic is the safest place to be other than literally staying inside your house.
The Mayo Clinic is doing so well with safety and preventing infections that they are using their position and expertise to advise businesses and governments on how to open safely. “It adds to our staff’s sense of credibility, says Sara, “they are feeling confident.”
Like many organizations, Mayo Clinic has employees who are actually not happy about being told they will be moving to permanent work-from-home status even after the pandemic has passed - not everyone who can work from home, wants to work from home. This has meant that Sara and her employee communications team are now also working on a change management effort to help communicate all aspects of permanent work from home status, including how employees will be able to maintain a connection to their colleagues on a long-term basis.
What challenges are you facing from your remote workforce? We’d be curious to know what is working for you and what advice you have to give your fellow colleagues. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll publish a follow-up blog with the responses.
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