As Chicago is slowly reopening it is creating the feeling with owners, employees, and customers that things may soon get back to “normal”. For months, businesses and their customers have been patiently waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to pass and giving them the opportunity to visit their favorite restaurants, shopping centers, and more. While there is light at the end of the tunnel there are still vital questions to be answered about when and how reopening will happen. Of course, state and local guidelines need to be followed, but there are a plethora of questions that still remain unanswered. When will businesses return to normal? How will workplace protocols change? What will be the impact on business travel? According to the Back to Work Playbook Study, conducted by WorldatWork, most organizations expect to return to some sort of normalcy by the summer. These are encouraging results given the current economic challenges being faced locally and across the United States. To help clients, prospects, and others, here we outline some of the key findings of this recent study.

Key Back to Work Survey Findings

  • Return to Normal Operations – The survey looked at how long respondents think it would be before companies would return to normal operation, assuming enhanced cleaning and employee safety protocols were followed. According to the results, 25% indicated June, 19% July, 6% August, 16% September, 4% October, and 15% indicated it would take until sometime in 2021.
  • Preventive Measures – With the continued importance to protect employees and businesses from a COVID-19 outbreak, the survey looked to understand the measures currently being considered on preventive measures. Only a small percentage of businesses would consider requiring a COVID-19 or anti-body test. According to the results:
    • 85% will implement additional cleaning measures,
    • 83% will limit meeting sizes or ban them altogether,
    • 67% will add more personal space or barriers around the office,
    • 64% will require employees to wear masks,
    • 50% will allow some employees to permanently work from home,
    • 13% will require employees to wear gloves, and
    • 15% will expand PTO and sick day leave.
  • Additional Cleaning – For those taking additional cleaning measures the survey identified which measures would be taken. According to the report, 92% will increase the availability of hand sanitizer, 81% will increase the frequency of cleaning, 53% will ask employees to clean their work areas, 21% will use more potent cleansing agents, and 14% will install higher grade air filters.
  • Communicating Workplace Changes – Any and additional measures will only work if employees are aware of policy changes and comply with new requirements. In looking at the most effective way to maintain communication with employees, the survey inquired on communication methods. Results indicated: 87% of participants will use email, 64% employee intranet site, 39% will conduct training sessions prior to employee return, 12% will have training on the same day of return, and 4% will use traditional mail. Most respondents indicated they will use a combination of these communication methods to inform their employees.
  • Workplace Policy Violations – Communicating new policies is one thing but ensuring they are followed is another matter completely. According to the survey results, 75% of respondents indicated they will regularly monitor employee behavior, 50% will establish a back to work taskforce, 29% expect violations to be reported, and 10% will impose formal penalties for violations.
  • Workforce Re-Engagement – The re-engagement of employees in the workplace is a top priority and likely challenge for many businesses as doing so effectively may not always be clear. The survey found that 26% of respondents will add or enhance wellness programs, 12% will enhance recognition programs, 10% will provide welcome back gifts, 7% will offer complimentary food and snacks, 4% will host a welcome back party, and 1% will enhance on-site services.

** With the ever evolving changes of the COVID-19 stimulus opportunities, please refer to our Response to COVID-19 page for the most up to date information. Please contact us if you have specific questions. **

Contact Us

The transition back to the workplace will be challenging for Chicago businesses regardless of industry. New considerations about employee health, protective measures, and ongoing communications need to be considered and decisions need to be made. If you have questions about the information outlined above or need assistance with a COVID-19 related issue, Selden Fox can help. For additional information call us at 630.954.1400 or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soo

Maryanne Adams

Maryanne Adams is the Director of Marketing and Operations at the firm where she handles marketing effort and oversees the HR, IT, and administrative functions of the firm. In addition to her internal role for the firm, she has worked with clients on their business operations, serving in an interim capacity as needed and assisting with evaluation and procurement of new systems and technology.