Will re-openings mean returning to the office?

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It’s the lingering question of many industries since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses around the world to pivot operations. For many, this also meant moving their workforce completely remote. As weeks turned into months, some workers are left wondering - will we ever return to the office? 

After months of working from home, the idea of returning to the physical office is daunting. As restrictions lift, employers are faced with the decision to assess the return to work experience - an equally daunting task. But despite the optimistic fate of re-opening efforts, will industry workers feel comfortable returning to the office? That’s an entirely different question and something we decided to dive into a little deeper.

The 60/40 split

If one thing’s for sure - there is very clearly a divide in how workers feel about working from home. Many professionals prefer their new at-home setup for reasons like health and safety concerns and tending to their children or other dependents, while others are eager to return to the office. 

A study that was developed during COVID-19 that found that almost 60 percent of Americans working from home would prefer to work remotely “as much as possible” after restrictions are lifted, with 40 percent saying they preferred to return to the workplace” (Source: NY Times).

With the majority of workers preferring to work from home once restrictions do lift, employers are being called to incorporate the lessons of the pandemic in operations today and tomorrow - which means including more compassionate management.

Adequate safety precautions is still a top concern

Some of the primary concerns workers are having around returning to the physical workplace involve a range of considerations such as commuting, exposure to others and sanitation. 

In LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index research, the study found the following listed as top concerns among respondents:

  • 63% cited exposure to others who aren’t taking enough precautions
  • 39% were worried about working in close proximity to other colleagues or customers
  • 31% were worried about shared spaces, such as eating or resting areas
  • 30% cited the commute to work
  • 25% were worried about large meetings/gatherings
  • 22% were worried about sanitation/cleanliness

For those who have returned to work, 16% cited a lack of protective tools and equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer, 14% cited a lack of safety precautions, and 13% cited a lack of support from their employer’s sick leave and remote work policies. Some 15%, meanwhile, said they had “no concerns” in thinking about a return to the workplace. (Source: LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index)

Accepting a new way of working online

With most of the corporate world working from home, employees are now receiving firsthand experience of remote-working benefits and drawbacks. Many point out the fact they miss the differentiation between home and work while others have reported feeling more rested, focused and balanced with family time. 

Despite the pros and cons that come from working-from-home, it appears that we have learned to accept our new way of working and find ways to become more productive. For many industries, synchronizing collaboration in real-time has been the key to moving forward. 

Streamlining WFH processes with technology

There are a number of ways collaboration and productivity have been adopted through the use of technology during the pandemic. In an earlier blog post, we speak to one of the easiest ways to increase virtual collaboration is to host a meeting online or begin using instant messengers to free up your email volume and provide relief to your inbox. 

For life sciences companies, synchronizing file feedback is a major pain point for employees. And managing your medical legal review can also be strained while working remotely. Collaboration software tools like Papercurve help to streamline medical compliance reviews by automating the chain of review and approvals in one centralized platform. Get in touch with us to learn more and to get started.

Ready to streamline remote MLR reviews? Book a demo with Papercurve to learn how you can manage your compliance approvals while you work from home.