Two years after the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, 65% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated; all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have announced the end of mask mandates and large swaths of full-time workers are finally returning to the office.
Employers have been eager to welcome workers back. Big tech companies are thinking creatively about how to boost productivity and collaboration – while embracing a hybrid work model that gives employees increased flexibility and autonomy over their work-life balance. In contrast, employers who are overly rigid with their return to office plans may find their employees might not come back at all. Instead, companies are considering ways they can help ease the transition from remote work to hybrid work, including:
- Allow employees to choose what days they work from the office.
- Offer in-person incentives such as breakfast, lunch or happy hours.
- Accommodate hectic commutes – reevaluate benefits programs to help defray costs or allow for flexible start and end times to the workday.
- Communicate safety protocols around COVID-19 and be respectful of people’s varying risk tolerance.
While American businesses are ushering employees back into the office, the Chinese government is imposing strict lockdowns to prevent the surge in transmission caused by “stealth Omicron” that has resulted in the highest number of cases in the country since the first outbreak in early 2020.
A new mutated strand of coronavirus has been identified in the United States. The so-called Deltacron variant is a hybrid of the Delta and Omicron COVID-19 strands. However, experts say it’s not cause for concern because immunity acquired against Omicron will hold up against the new recombinant.