HR Tech Number of the Day: Return to work plans

Attendees of HR Tech sound off on whether they plan to require employees to come back to the office in early 2021.
By: | October 30, 2020 • 2 min read


43: Percentage of HR Tech attendees who said during an audience poll they are not making their employees return to the office in early 2021.

During Friday’s opening keynote at the HR Technology Conference & Exposition—with industry analyst John Sumser—attendees of the session were asked if they were requiring their employees to return to the office in early 2021. The majority (43%) said no, 20% said yes and 37% said they were undecided.

What it means for HR leaders

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Although a handful of employers are making plans to bring workers back into the office after a massive shift to remote work due to COVID-19, some industry insiders caution organizations not to rush.

Marcus Buckingham, New York Times bestselling author and researcher, in his Thursday keynote said: “We don’t need to rush our employees back to normal because we’re trying to make them feel better. It won’t.”

Read all of our HR Tech Conference coverage here.

In his keynote Friday, Sumser urged organizations and HR leaders to think “ethically” about return to work and said smart organizations need to prioritize safety, health and development. Organizations and HR leaders should continuously question assumptions and ask themselves what is best for their employees’ health and safety when making decisions about when and if workers should come back to the office, how they can best keep employees safe and how much information they should give employees about the risks of coming back into the office during a pandemic.

Related: Why ethics should be at the heart of HR tech decisions

Sumser recommended that all HR departments and their vendors create an operational ethics function, so that decisions can be evaluated with a group of people to make sure everyone is in alignment about what they’re doing and what they are trying to accomplish.

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“I think ethics is a new way of deciding,” Sumser said, noting that considering ethics also allows for decisions to be made that aren’t permanent. “We want to keep things evolving because we’re learning, and we still don’t know a lot about what’s going on.”

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Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.