Returning to the Office — What Does the "New Normal" Look Like for Firms?

May 20, 2020

Provided by CAMICO Loss Prevention
As many counties and states loosen COVID 19–related restrictions for employers across the country, more questions than answers arise regarding best practices in return-to-work procedures.

While continuing to allow employees to work in a remote capacity would be ideal, for some firms continuing with a remote work environment might not be feasible. CPA firms are reporting problems such as managing employees who cannot telework; maintaining morale and cohesiveness in a remote environment; overseeing employees and their work; and dealing with unplanned technology costs, connectivity issues, and concerns related to cybersecurity and the safeguarding of client data.

This "new normal" is anything but normal, and information and best practices about how best to structure return to the workplace and how to safely behave in the workplace will likely change frequently. Firms will need to be flexible and responsive as information and best practices regarding the pandemic are updated by local governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Now, more than ever, management needs to be thoughtful and compassionate when dealing with the myriad of feelings employees will have as they contemplate returning to the office. Employees may be feeling anxious about being in the office surrounded by others; or due to personal or medical reasons, they may be unable to wear a mask; or perhaps they are considered at risk themselves or have an at-risk family member in their household. These are uncharted waters and trying times for employers and employees alike, and a more delicate approach may be necessary when dealing with employee issues related to this pandemic.

Preparing for employees returning to the office should be a thoughtful and deliberate process and one supported by guidelines set by state and federal health officials. As firms begin the planning process, there are several items for consideration in preparing the office and employees for the eventual return to minimize some of the potential pain points.
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