The Impact of New Variants on Return-to-Office Plans
Contributed by Jim Hartweck and Neema Moughari, Client Relations Executives
As more and more people received the COVID vaccination, the coronavirus pandemic seemed to hit a turning point. Individuals were gearing up to return to normalcy in their lives and businesses were having their employees return to offices. However, the virus is fast evolving into variants that differ from the type first detected in China in 2019. As a result, businesses assessed the situation and reverted to remote work until the work environment is stable and safe for all employees. Other businesses also introduced hybrid working model, which combines both remote and office-based work days in a schedule.
“The next variant of concern will be more fit, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating,” Van Kerkhove said. “The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe.” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Official 
Despite lower risk of hospitalization, recent new variants have spread very fast. Due to the uncertainty of the impact of fast spreading strains, many businesses are struggling with changing their return-to-office plans. An effective approach by employers during these unprecedented challenges is to be a leader for the workers, articulate the company’s position and objectives, design contingency plans, and make sure to clearly communicate with all employees along the way. As soon as a new variant is identified, leaders will need to communicate that they’re monitoring the situation and remind employees of the contingencies in place . Businesses should focus on creating a framework that facilitates sharing communication, gathering feedback, and checking in on employees. Effective communication and promptly adapting to the changing environment will be reassuring for the employees and allow businesses to gain control over their operations through unpredictable situations.