Are we ready to return to in-person work?

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The American (including Colorado) workforce is on the move again. After half of working Americans abruptly transitioned from business offices to work-from-home 15 months ago, we have begun to see some workplaces bringing workers back to work in person, and plans being laid for accommodating a new model. There are both advantages and disadvantages to working from home and to returning to traditional office work. 

Dr. Lee Newman with The Center for Health, Work & Environment, based at the Colorado School of Public Health shares the health, economic and ethical impacts as employees return to in-person work.

Once-skeptical employers have learned that companies can preserve or even increase productivity when people work-from-home, but have concerns about how and when to bring employees to the office to help promote innovation, collaboration, and corporate culture. Employees have valued the flexibility, some added autonomy, less commuting, more time for non-work activities, and protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection, but are also seeing the need for more in-person contact with co-workers and clients to preserve their mental health and sense of well-being. 

Both employers and employees are asking important questions about how to transition back to work; how much to work from home or from the traditional office; what efforts need to go into improving office ventilation systems, office occupancy levels, and sanitation. And, now that highly effective vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 are available, there’s a need to quickly establish new best practices for how and where work will be performed in the months ahead. 

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