Podcast: Employees Trust Their Leaders to Make Reopening Decisions



Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer.

This edition of PeopleTech is brought to you by advos. Its web platform provides tools to elevate your company’s brand and amplify its message. Marketing software that works for you. Learn more at www.advos.io.

So, Covid-19. Right now, everyone’s talking about whether schools should reopen. But employers – for a while – have been trying to figure out when and how they can reopen their offices, service centers or what have you. The virus is still spreading, so it’s not an easy question.

HR tech vendors have been trying to help, of course. They’ve been showing off tools to take temperatures, trace contacts—or, at least improve the efficiency and engagement of those working from home.

Podcast: Workers say spending their days in an enclosed space with other people is risky. But they trust employers to make the right decision on reopening the office. #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

But whatever your strategy, the idea of reopening faces headwinds beyond the behavior of the virus. Workers regard the idea of spending their days in an enclosed space with other people as being risky. Social distancing or no social distancing.

PwC did a survey in June that found fewer than half of the workforce feels they’d be safe in the office, even if people wore masks or desks had been reconfigured. In July, The Wall Street Journal said less than a tenth of Manhattan’s office workers had returned when given the chance. It seems companies that offered workers the option weren’t exactly bowled by the response.

Take Verizon. It said employees could come back as long as they followed rules about things like seating and face masks. But just a few took them up on it. Like one executive said, basically: “If the point is to go in and work with other people, but not everyone’s going to be there, why bother?”

One thing that’s interesting in all this is that employees trust their employers. Qualtrics, for instance, says that 60% of workers would be uncomfortable returning to work, but 80% trust leadership to make the right decision.

More research, this from Kronos, found that most employees—86%are comfortable with the idea of their employer managing contact tracing. A lot of people had worried that workers would be too concerned with privacy to go along with that, but it turns out they’re more worried about their safety.

Safety, and transparency. Just as many workers say their company’s obligated to tell them if they’re at risk because of contact with an infected colleague. 

Anyway, it’s looking more and more like the lion’s share of remote work will here for a while. Remember, Google just said 200,000 workers will work from home through at least July 2021. And the timing of return depends on more than Covid-19’s spread or the efficacy of any vaccine. It depends on how Americans react to vaccine’s approval, and the ability to manufacture and distribute the vaccine quickly.

Some reports say up to half of Americans would defer inoculation initially, and some say the logistics involved in distributing the vaccine will be tough. So, we may just have to accept the fact that the complete reopening of business will lag science and regulation, but at least several months.

This has been PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. This edition was brought to you by advos, marketing software that works for you. Learn more at www.advos.io.

And to keep up with the most important developments in HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www-dot-hcm-technology-report-dot-com. I’m Mark Feffer.

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