Return to the workplace: 5 factors that can help employers decide and deploy

May 13, 2020

Organizations need information that can help support their ongoing efforts to evaluate conditions and mobilize employees to return to work, and remain at work, in the wake of COVID-19

iBM article


The COVID-19 pandemic has many people asking: When will conditions be favorable to let employees return to the workplace? Under what conditions can employees remain at work in the event of local flare-ups?

During uncertain times, knowing when to ask employees to return to work, and remain at work, can be a very complex decision for employers. They must balance the well-being of their employees with the needs of their clients and strength of their organizations. They must also consider factors unique to each location and individual employees, and they should understand where additional protocols could be put in place that can help protect vulnerable employees.

To help do this effectively, we consider drawing insights from five primary types of data:

  1. Local COVID-19 infection rates and trends
  2. Employee symptoms and test results
  3. Population health status and risk factors
  4. State and local regulations
  5. Applicable company policies

It can be challenging to work with these data inputs, as they can change daily. Applying analytics to information gathered from employees about their current symptoms and risk of exposure, as well as localized data on infection rates and trends, can help give employers a clearer picture of locations where conditions have been met to bring employees back to the workplace. Or these insights may help an employer decide where to delay bringing employees back to protect employee health. In addition, organizations can leverage information on population health and vulnerability to gain insights into specific locations where more stringent health and safety protocols are needed.

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