Is the COVID pandemic over? Do we have validated and clear global answers? The vaccinations were expected to solve everything but this isn’t the case anymore and we understand that vaccines are not enough (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2021/08/18/world/middleeast/israel-virus-infections-booster.amp.html).
Recent surges in Covid-19 cases due to the delta variant are reigniting discussion on return-to-work. With Apple and Alphabet, for example, postponing return-to-work plans until October. In this context, other companies and employees are reevaluating whether they want to return to the office. If so, how to maximise safety and security issues for their employees and the rest of society in general. For example, the return to in-person work on a trial basis can be a solution and many companies like Apple and Google are designing hybrid work solutions and models with shortened work week rather than a full five-day week, though the resilience in each company’s hybrid model does vary (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2021/08/01/why-youll-want-to-be-back-in-office-eventually-behavior-expert-.html?client=safari).
Even with the social nature of human beings will lead more workers to see the benefits of being in a workplace again. This isn’t the case for everyone and outdated standards of one-size-fits-all that still characterise conservative and traditional business-as-usual strategies need to be re-evaluated. This is, as health and safety concerns are likely to continue and will still make many employees resistant to work in office. So, employers may need to offer “trial basis” returns as a first step and to assess and quantify the large-scale and long-term outcome on equal foot as short-term and small-scale versions, of whatever the solutions or models they may use.
With the existing cloudy situation new questions and recommendations are emerging. Do we always need offices? (https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/is-an-office-necessary-1/). Indeed, many traditions need to be revisited, e.g. for what? when? also why? do we need offices? Do we really use, practice and benefit from ICT technology optimally? By the end of the twenty century they were many promises and expectations that ICT would give more resilience in working and allow people to be less dependent on offices. But, many of these promises and expectations became more and more volatile though the huge expansion of ICT ‘Information Communication Technology’, automation as well as the accelerating use of AI ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and ML ‘Machine Learning’. Also with the existing enormous needs to mitigate climate change and environment degradation as well as improve the life-quality in general (UN-SDGs). No question, transport and traffic issues can cause unnecessary stress, cost and inconveniences as well as more emissions of green house gases and pollution (sustain-earth.com). As an example, what regards gender and life-quality return to work it is harder for women (https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/08/nobel-winning-poverty-researcher-on-why-people-wont-go-back-to-work-.html). As people attempt to return to work, child care costs burden women more than men. Jobs don’t offer flexible options and don’t pay enough to cover child care costs. Do we afford to put future generations at more risk? Therefore, women are likely to stay home and not because they don’t want to return to work. COVID has allowed us to know more about the roots of poverty, gender and social inequalities.
Even with the new trends of trial basis and hybrid solutions there are still recommendations of what employers need to reconsider and what employees need to demand in their work places (https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2020/health/reopening-coronavirus/work.html). Among these it is required to know to which extent have coronavirus safety precautions changed in workplaces; What safety measures would be needed for workers in all settings?; Which types of employers and businesses might see the biggest changes right now?; What steps can workers take to keep themselves safe at work? What steps they should take when they get home?; What safety advices for people commuting and what employers can do for them?.