Coronavirus changes employer, employee expectations as more people return to work

Posted at 2:13 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 19:20:21-04

While the nation slowly continues to open up after shutting down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many workers are finding their employers are more likely to work with them to establish a work routine.

One change tied to the coronavirus that Tyara Wilmink doesn’t mind is her employer’s sick leave policy.

“If I’m feeling a little under the weather, I know that they’ll grant me the time off needed,” said Wilmink.

Before COVID-19 disrupted her work in a restaurant and catering business, she would often need a doctor’s note to miss work. Now, as an expecting mother in the middle of a pandemic, she’s more willing to ask for time off and her boss is more likely to accommodate her.

“I’m glad that they allow us to take the precautionary steps, they’re definitely looking at their health a lot more now,” said Wilmink.

“Having those conversations is critical right now,” said Robert Half International Cleveland Branch Manager Megan Keeney.

Keeney said some businesses have been going “back to normal” as soon as they could.

“There’s some companies that are all back in the office and ready to go and not all the employees are back on the same page,” said Keeney.

So, she said, many companies are adapting. A Robert Half study found that because of the pandemic 79% of workers said they think their company should "allow employees to work from home more frequently.”

Before the pandemic, Keeney said employers generally required some kind of extenuating circumstance to stay home. Now, that could change.

“There are a lot of things people are putting into perspective right now and trying to analyze what makes the most sense for everyone,” said Keeney.

For parents who have an office job, that could mean shorter hours at their desk, more time at home, but also new expectations.

Both employees and their bosses have realized that much of their work can be done remotely so employees are more likely to ask for flexibility.

“Because of the increase of demand from the employee standpoint, there’s more than likely going to be a hybrid-model out there,” said Keeney.

If your employer is starting to call workers back into the office and you’re not comfortable going back quite yet:

  • Communicate with your manager. Many workplaces are much more likely to accommodate alternate plans.
  • Let your supervisor know your routine, when you will get work done and when you might be needed for family responsibilities.
  • Create a plan to deal with distractions like pets or social media to keep working efficiently.