The post-COVID return to work: 3 strategies to ease the transition.

As coronavirus vaccines start to appear, employers and employees alike have begun contemplating how the post-COVID workplace will work.

For some employees, telecommuting has worked well. For others, it has been a struggle to balance work and home life. Many want to come back to work onsite. Others are in no hurry to return, maybe because they have health concerns or prefer to work from home.

Here are ways employers can accommodate both:

1 Health care incentives.

Improving health benefits can ease return-to-work anxiety. Employees have already seen that telemedicine can effectively and inexpensively treat low-urgency medical conditions that previously might have precipitated an expensive emergency room visit.

For 2021, health care plans offering permanent telehealth options--not just during shutdowns--have proven popular with employees. So have plans that include remote counseling and other help dealing with stress. (See page 4 for more benefit ideas.)

2 Telework help. Employers are refining their telework plans and benefits programs to accommodate varied worker needs. For example, some workers want to continue telework to avoid illness. Others want to return because managing erratic school schedules made telework difficult.

One option is to provide backup child care. Some employers offer remote educational counseling for employees' kids who are struggling with remote learning.

3 Permanent remote work.

Permanent telecommuting may work surprisingly well for some workers. As the pandemic ravaged cities, some people have moved to lower-density communities. Allowing telework may help retain those workers who would otherwise accept job offers from employers that fully embrace remote work.

CDC revises mask and quarantine guidelines

As COVID cases reach all-time highs this winter, pay attention to new safety guidelines issued in December by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:


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