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Companies rethinking return-to-office plans amid delta variant surge

Companies must choose between continuing with their plans to get people back into an office setting or putting plans on hold.

Not long ago, businesses were optimistic that employees would begin returning to the office this fall as the pandemic eased. But now, as the new Delta variant surges, many companies are tapping the brakes on those plans.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that some fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they live in locations with high levels of cases. With this announcement, Forbes reported, companies will be forced to make tough decisions: take a wait-and-see approach while continuing with their plans to get people back into an office setting, or putting plans on hold until there is greater clarity about the virus.

Google updated its response in a company blog post.

“We are excited that we’ve started to reopen our campuses and encourage Googlers who feel safe coming to sites that have already opened to continue doing so,” CEO Sundar Pichai wrote. “At the same time, we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office. This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it. We’ll continue watching the data carefully and let you know at least 30 days in advance before transitioning into our full return-to-office plans.”

Other tech companies also explained their policies:

“After careful consideration of the CDC’s updated guidelines and in light of current conditions, Twitter has made the decision to close our opened offices in New York and San Francisco, as well as pause future office reopenings, effective immediately,” the company announced in an employee memo.

“As our offices reopen, we will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our U.S. campuses to be vaccinated,” said Lori Goler, vice president of people at Facebook. “How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations.”

Studies have shown that employees have been contemplating quitting if they can’t continue working remotely. The recent mask recommendations would offer a compelling reason to resist their company’s plans to go back to an office.

David Powell, president of Prodoscore, has some insight on what business leaders should consider when making this choice:

“Our data proves that despite location, productivity is a personal matter,” he says. ”If an employee was highly productive in-office, they’ll be productive at home; if an employee slacked off at the office, they’ll be doing the same at home. In fact, after evaluating over 105 million data points from 30,000 U.S.-based Prodoscore users, we discovered a 5% increase in productivity during the pandemic work from home period. Although, as we know, any variant of the CoVID-19 virus is unpredictable, employee productivity is not.”

Source: Benefits Pro

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