Some schools, businesses and offices are re-opening but it’s presenting plenty of challenges for workers and their employers.
Teacher Ellie Hodson did her job remotely in the spring. But her district is planning to reopen classrooms this fall, and she has concerns. “What happens if we go back in person and one of my students gets sick and maybe even dies, am I prepared to handle something like that? No,” Hodson says.
It’s not just teachers who are worried, many businesses and offices are asking employees to come back. In a LinkedIn survey, 69% of working professionals say their workplaces are now open, 31% say they are required to return, but 57% say they are not comfortable doing so.
“We’re seeing a lot of stress and anxiety right now as workers are asked to return to work,” says Caroline Fairchild, the editor at large for LinkedIn News. She says, “Employees are really looking for their employers to create COVID-19-specific policies to make sure that a return to work is safe. A vast majority of employers are requiring that their workers wear a mask all day in the office, many are banning in person meetings, and there’s also staggered starts. So you might not get to the office the same time as your colleagues.”
But for many parents, returning to the office isn’t an option. According to LinkedIn’s survey, 30% said they would not have childcare. Fairchild says workers should create a plan, voice their concerns, and talk to their boss about options which may include a trial period for working remotely. “Just go to your manager with a clear proposal, if they are anxious about the fact that you are going to continue to work from home, address that head-on and say, I’ll do more video calls, I’ll send an email at the end of the day letting you know what I’ve been doing,” Fairchild says.
She says the key is finding a plan that works for both employer and employee during the pandemic.