The successful vaccination campaign in the United States saw new positive cases drop from over 200,000 per day in January 2021 to just around 40,000 daily in May 2021. It is still a relatively high number of infections, but the trend is on a decline as more people are immunized.
President Joe Biden set a goal of inoculating 70 percent of all American adults by July 4.
Because the situation in the U.S. is now improving, life is slowly but surely going back to normal. In some places, wearing a mask is no longer a requirement if the person has already been fully vaccinated or has survived their bout with COVID-19. Businesses have also reopened and are currently seeing a spending boom as shoppers celebrate what seems to be the end of the pandemic.
After over a year of meetings on Zooms, soon, workers will be able to go back to the office, too.
However, not everyone wants to return to how things were. A survey conducted late last year found that the majority of workers (65 percent of all respondents) want to continue working from home full-time. Meanwhile, the rest want to have a hybrid set up where they can work from home a few days a week and be in the office whenever needed. Needless to say, the remote setup is here to stay.
If employees are going to be working from home full-time, there need to be major changes in how the company is structured. Moreover, employers have to reevaluate the benefits that employees, especially those who want to move far away from the office.
What to Do with Health Plans?
There would not be a problem if the employee who decides to work remotely full-time lives in the same city as wherever the office is located. Many employers tend to choose health care providers based on proximity. If the employee is not moving away to a different geographic region, the coverage of their health plans would not change.
However, it becomes tricky if the employee is somewhere very far away. They might not have easy access to in-network coverage. When they need medical help, they would have to pay exorbitant costs out of pocket.
The employers must confirm the address of the employee to see if they would need to arrange their health plan based on their specific location. Any change of living arrangement should be reported to the company. Employers can tap human resource services to figure out local options and provide the needs of the remote employee.
Research Local Laws
Each state, county, and city also has its own set of rules and regulations that apply to residents within the jurisdiction. Some locations, for example, require employers to grant employees paid leaves to care for their sick loved ones.
For this reason alone, companies cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all policy. Benefits should be crafted based on the employee’s place of residence and what the local laws require. Providing the same paid leave model to everyone will only broaden the scope to adhere to all location-specific requirements. It will be too expensive to maintain.
If employees decide to work remotely full-time, companies can significantly reduce expenses. They can move to a smaller and more affordable office space (if an office space is still needed). They will also lower their monthly utility bills. Moreover, there would not be a need for work-related equipment and supplies.
However, before management celebrates, in exchange for financial savings, employers should expand the benefits offered to employees who now have to work from home full-time. The pandemic brought out the issues that come from the remote setup. While it is more freeing to be at home and not in the office, there are problems that make being productive a challenge.
One, the employees need tools to be able to work from home. They would need a computer, internet connection, a desk and a chair, and other tools to be able to fulfill their tasks. In the office, these tools are provided for them. There are companies that offer to reimburse the cost of assembling a home office.
Another potential benefit that can aid employees working from home is grocery delivery, access to childcare and dog walking, and cleaning services.
Previous studies have proven that employees are most productive when they are allowed to work from home. They gain more control of their time because there is no commute nor office distractions such as chatter and meetings. However, before shifting to remote work full-time after the pandemic, employers should review the benefits provided to employees to see if they comply with local laws and if they can provide further assistance to the people who keep the company afloat.