The Return-to-Work Dilemma

According to PwC’s US Remote Work Survey conducted earlier this year, employees want to return to the office more slowly than employers expect. Results indicate that by July 2021, 75% of executives anticipate that at least half of office employees will be working in the office. In comparison, 61% of employees expect to spend half their time in the office by July.

Libraries (those that closed or reduced hours) may face challenges from employees concerned about returning full time. After all, there are many new COVID variants, and a portion of the population refuses to get vaccinated.

Managers in libraries are probably thinking, “We run a library. There’s no question about it; our employees need to be in the library full time. We can’t serve our community without staff being in the building.”  However, not all libraries have stayed fully opened during this past year. Communities have been able to receive services. Granted, you may not have been fully operational, but many libraries and communities discovered that work still got accomplished, and communities had their needs met. If library directors and managers are willing to be a bit flexible, they may imagine a different work environment. PwC’s survey results suggest that it may be time to reimagine where and how work will get done post-pandemic.

Local governments, school districts, libraries and individual communities make their plans about how and when to go back to full service. There is no agreed-upon timeline or template. The key will be to implement strategies supporting returning employees who may have lingering concerns that their work environment isn’t safe. In addition, employers must consider the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated guidelines.

We’re curious. What needs to happen for you to feel comfortable returning to the library/office on a full-time basis with fully operational services? Please take a minute to let us know.