Physical distancing protocols are fading. Save the temperature checks and commonplaceness of hand-sanitizer dispensers, public spaces seem to be moving on from the mania of what could be considered a modern-day plague. While most local and world government agencies are rolling back many pandemic workplace safety rules, these rollbacks are subject to change. The transition from remote work to in office work is a complicated subject as malleable as public Covid-19 policies themselves. The impact on workplace culture can be seen from the workplace styles which have emerged from the pandemic.
Some interesting models have developed from workplaces that have decided to commit to long-term flexibility. Salesforce has adopted a “success from anywhere” model, where a lot of employees can choose to be permanently remote. PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that about 40,000 of its employees will be allowed to work from home. An emerging issue is the seeming insistence of certain Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies to continue with work-from-home (WFH) plans in the Philippines and India. This issue has recently escalated with some advocates of BPO's calling for a group resignation should their companies require a return to the office. The call for continued WFH is exacerbated by the recent rise in fuel prices.
Another point of contention is the need for continued use of face masks. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Act's amended its vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers. The overall opinion seems to be that it is too soon to drop the mandatory use of face masks. However, some states contend that it should gradually be made voluntary given the ramp up in vaccinations, and some states support no action be taken.
In Virginia for example, the Safety and Health Codes Board voted to revoke 16 VAC 25-220. The revocation means masks are no longer required in Virginia workplaces, but employers may still implement voluntary mitigation measures. However, they cannot require masks to be worn by visitors or customers in public and retail establishments. Another issue for the workplace is the personal costs. There were friends and family members lost. Recognizing that is going to be important in making a work culture that feels viable to people moving forward.
Throughout the world in places such as restaurants, public transport, offices, brick and mortar stores and places of worship, the last remnants of Covid-19 are being undone. The tape and flyers denoting seating restrictions in waiting areas are disappearing. Social distancing protocols have faded and as we are starting to resume our lives, we are also transitioning to living with the virus. The move to the new normal is evolving. Society is still riddling out how it should live with the virus. Ultimately, we must make sure that we find not only the new but the better norm. Make the last two years of learning from the pandemic count.
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