As the world begins to re-open and organizations seek to rebuild the workplace, security leaders are faced with the challenge of re-integrating their workforce and essential workers safely and securely into their facilities. With the traditional workplace posing many risks in the time of COVID-19, organizations will be faced with many questions about the future of workplace safety and how to create an environment that balances the demands of occupant safety and wellness with organizational productivity.
COVID-19 brought unprecedented change to the workplace. Almost overnight, offices everywhere closed, forcing millions of workers to rapidly shift to work-from-home environments. Now, as vaccination rates increase globally, the promise of rebuilding the workplace is becoming an exciting reality for many. However, it’s also a challenging reality for most enterprise security leaders who are now tasked with creating a new workplace environment that’s responsive to the social distancing and health regulations of the COVID-19 era, while also continuing to foster productivity, collaboration, and culture.
According to Gartner, the pandemic has and will continue to progress through three major phases: respond, recover, renew. When the pandemic first hit, organizations reacted as they would to any crisis - by going into immediate ‘response’ mode. Incident management teams were quickly mobilized to help ‘put out the fire’ while, simultaneously, heavy government regulation forced rapid office and workplace closures around the world. All attention and energy were placed on squashing COVID-19 and as a result, everything, everywhere, was shut down almost overnight. Following this initial response phase, we then moved into the second pandemic progression phase or the ‘recovery’ phase (most of the world is currently in this phase). In the recovery phase, we’ve begun to see a gradual easement of restrictions in many areas, while other areas continue to oscillate between escalation and de-escalation of restrictions depending on current virus caseloads.
So, what’s next in this recovery phase and beyond into the ‘renewal’ phase as organizations look to rebuild the workplace? While no one can answer the question with 100% certainty, it is likely that new and permanent regulations will be implemented, but for the most part, heavy government mandates will begin to fade out of the picture during the renewal phase. Beyond that, it will ultimately come down to individuals and organizations to rethink everything about how they will rebuild the workplace - from where we work, to how we work, and who is coming into work.
The evolving duty of care model
By definition, duty of care is the obligation of an organization to assume responsibility for protecting its employees from risks and threats while working and is widely protected within the legislation of many countries.
Many items are covered under the duty of care umbrella and include health and safety, corporate compliance, adherence to government regulations, and social responsibility to name a few. As a result of COVID-19, there will likely be some gaps between acceptable pre-pandemic levels of duty of care and the levels that will be necessary upon return to the workplace. Traditionally, many organizations have looked at duty of care programs as too great an expense to fully implement. But in the wake of COVID-19, perspectives are greatly shifting as organizations are now realizing that the risk of avoiding duty of care strategies is far too great to carry on any longer as they seek to rebuild their workplace.
Download the Ebook on Rebuilding the workplace: Creating opportunity from crisis to learn more.