As state and local governments ease restrictions and more non-essential businesses are able to re-open, many organizations are developing plans to return to the physical office, yet questions remain about what the “future of work” will look like. COVID-19 has had far-reaching impacts on the way we work, and many of the workstyles and approaches companies have adopted to ensure business continuity during shutdowns are likely here to stay (at least in some form). Many businesses are embracing remote work and hybrid work arrangements for the foreseeable future, even as some employees return to the physical workplace.
The circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic give rise to many questions as employers work to develop policies and procedures to ensure workplace safety, while also fostering work-life balance, productivity, and a positive employee experience. It’s not an easy balance to maintain, and companies in all sectors will continue to learn and adapt as the world settles into a new normal. To help you identify and implement a successful return-to-work plan that’s both safe for your people and effective for the business, we’ve compiled 50 comprehensive resources below:
1. From Remote Work to Hybrid Work: The Tech You’ll Need to Link Home and Office
Focus: Business Strategy & Effectiveness
This article from The Wall Street Journal outlines the essential tools you’ll need to transition from remote work to hybrid work and link the home and office seamlessly to maximize productivity (and some challenges you might face along the way).
Three key points in From Remote Work to Hybrid Work: The Tech You’ll Need to Link Home and Office:
2. Rewiring how we work: building a new employee experience for a digital-first world
Slack’s Future Forum has launched a Remote Employee Experience Index, a quarterly report offering data and analysis to help organizations navigate the new, digital-first world of work. Based on data from 4,700 primarily remote workers from six countries, it measures factors such as productivity, work-life balance, and work satisfaction.
Three key points from Rewiring how we work: building a new employee experience for a digital-first world:
3. Moving beyond remote: Workplace transformation in the wake of Covid-19
This article from Slack describes findings and takeaways from a global survey of more than 9,000 knowledge workers on the future of work and how companies can rethink the way teams work to support the new hybrid work model. It also includes findings from The Future Forum’s Remote Employee Experience Index.
Three key points from Moving beyond remote: Workplace transformation in the wake of Covid-19:
4. Question & Answer Employer Guide: Return to Work in the Time of COVID-19
Focus: Health & Physical Safety
Faegre Drinker provides detailed answers to dozens of frequently asked questions from employers related to returning to work in the time of COVID-19. The questions and answers are organized by topic, making it easy to find the information you’re looking for whether you have questions about hiring or HR issues, employee benefits, sick leave or disability issues, the physical work environment, or other common concerns.
Three key points from Question & Answer Employer Guide: Return to Work in the Time of COVID-19:
5. Key Considerations in Designing a Return to Work Plan
Shearman & Sterling outlines the key considerations for employers designing a plan for returning to work, including a summary of government guidelines for preparing the physical workplace, developing an ongoing monitoring and response plan, mitigating risks, and more.
Three key points from Key Considerations in Designing a Return to Work Plan:
6. COVID-19 Return to Work Playbook
Focus: Health & Physical Safety, Business Strategy & Effectiveness
Kaiser Permanente’s Return to Work Playbook encompasses a range of considerations to address when developing and implementing a return to work plan. In addition to basic physical workplace safety considerations and employee health screenings, this guide also covers mental health and emotional well-being, updating HR policies to reflect the new normal, and more.
Three key points from COVID-19 Return to Work Playbook:
7. 5 Ways to Support Employees Returning to Work During COVID-19
Focus: Physical Health & Safety, Business Strategy & Effectiveness
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce discusses five ways employers can support employees returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as offering flexible scheduling or creative child care solutions, following best practices for sanitation and social distancing, and more.
Three key points from 5 Ways to Support Employees Returning to Work During COVID-19:
8. Reopening safely: Sample practices from essential businesses
McKinsey & Company examines the policies and practices implemented by essential businesses to help non-essential businesses identify best practices that have proven effective in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a discussion of the different needs and risk levels of different types of businesses and actions to consider before re-opening, for commuting to and from work, and at the workplace.
Three key points from Reopening safely: Sample practices from essential businesses:
9. Strategies For Developing A Return To Work Action Plan
This article from Seyfarth discusses the key issues employers should consider when developing an action plan for returning to work, such as whether to implement a phased return and developing protocols to address logistical challenges such as transportation, child care, and employees who may be fearful of returning to the physical work environment.
Three key points from Strategies For Developing A Return To Work Action Plan:
10. U.S. Privacy Law Implications for Employers Considering Employee Contact-Tracing Apps
Contact tracing apps are getting a lot of attention as businesses are returning to work and looking for ways to maintain employees’ health and safety, but what legal and privacy implications arise from the use of these apps? This article from Husch Blackwell covers the ins and outs of contact tracing apps and how to properly vet applications to avoid violating privacy laws or assuming liabilities.
Three key points from U.S. Privacy Law Implications for Employers Considering Employee Contact-Tracing Apps:
11. Return: A new muscle, not just a plan
McKinsey & Company proposes an open-ended, flexible approach to the return to work rather than a definitive phase with a distinct point of completion. By developing a company-wide approach to absorbing uncertainty and adapting to change, companies can gain a competitive advantage in responding to future unanticipated disruptions.
Three key points from Return: A new muscle, not just a plan:
12. Question & Answer Employer Guide: Return to Work in the Time of COVID-19
Focus: Physical Health & Safety
National Law Review provides answers to commonly asked questions related to the return to work, encompassing functional areas such as when to reopen, legal obligations to consider, social distancing guidelines, and resuming meetings, conferences, and business travel, among others.
Three key points from Question & Answer Employer Guide: Return to Work in the Time of COVID-19:
13. Communications get personal: How leaders can engage employees during a return to work
This article from McKinsey & Company discusses how leadership can engage employees more effectively during the return to work process, including four best practices to help leaders build trust and a sense of purpose.
Three key points from Communications get personal: How leaders can engage employees during a return to work:
14. Returning to Work in 2021: A New Hybrid Work Model after COVID-19
Lifesize discusses the new hybrid work model emerging for many companies as businesses return to work and adapt to meet employees’ increased expectations for flexible work arrangements. Lifesize recommends embracing the hybrid work model, in which some employees work in the office and others work remotely, as well as other strategies for ensuring a smooth and safe transition to the new normal.
Three key points from Returning to Work in 2021: A New Hybrid Work Model after COVID-19:
15. COVID-19: Creating a Safe Workplace
The Cleveland Clinic offers several guides focused on specific functional areas, such as cleaning and disinfection and communicating with empathy, to help employers facilitate a smooth transition back to work while ensuring a supportive and safe work environment. Industry-focused guides for retail, manufacturing, restaurants, healthcare providers, and other industries are also available.
Three key resources from COVID-19: Creating a Safe Workplace:
16. FP Beyond the Curve: Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers
The Fisher Phillips Post-Pandemic Strategy group, a cross-disciplinary group of Fisher Phillips workplace attorneys, has compiled a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions to help guide employers during the return to work process. The answers to these questions provide actionable advice covering everything from general workplace safety measures to human resources, trade secrets and intellectual property considerations, workplace privacy, and more.
Three key points from FP Beyond the Curve: Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers:
17. COVID-19 Resources by State
With the COVID-19 response in the U.S. handled largely at the state level, keeping up with the various executive orders and legislation enacted across multiple states is easier said than done. Paychex makes it easy to find all the relevant information and directives that may impact your business in any state with a simple drop-down menu.
Humanyze’s workplace analytics help companies inform, validate, and improve decision-making by continuously measuring organizational effectiveness through the lens of collaboration. These insights have become even more critical during COVID-19, as companies are using the technology to uncover and improve the impacts of remote work on their organizations, as well as inform their return to work plan. By uncovering how work gets done and which behaviors, initiatives, or processes lead to success, Humanyze empowers leaders with the objective insights they need to create a healthier, more effective workplace.
Salesforce’s Work.com platform has implemented a number of capabilities designed to help employers facilitate and manage a seamless return to work. The platform includes solutions for employee experience, workplace safety, trusted communications, and emergency response management.
PwC’s Check-In helps companies plan, prevent, and mitigate risks to their workforce with digital health checks and automated contact tracing.
21. Appian Workforce Safety
Appian Workforce Safety is a unified COVID-19 response hub with an automated and flexible approach to returning to onsite work safely. A single interface for managing workforce readiness, it includes a variety of features designed to support a safe return to work in accordance with local regulations.
Doc.ai’s Passport helps businesses manage reopening from a single dashboard. It’s a secure app that can be customized with specific rules for each of your work locations.
23. The COVID-19 Health Status App
The COVID-19 Health Status App helps organizations monitor employee health status with streamlined employee surveys, contact tracing, workflow analysis, and more. Created by Evident, The COVID-19 Health Status App enables companies to identify health risks and communicate openly and transparently while protecting employee privacy and managing liability.
24. Coronavirus Preparedness
Everbridge offers a set of resources to help businesses protect their people and their operations as they return to work. With Everbridge’s Covid-19 Shield Return to Work Solutions, you can manage new outbreaks quickly, identify supply chain risks, and manage policies and procedures in one place.
25. SixFifty Return to Work Toolset
SixFifty partnered with Wilson Sonsini to develop a solution that helps businesses assess their back-to-work readiness, generate return to work policies and documents, and track employee health to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
26. Resuming Business Toolkit
The CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit is designed to help employers lower the impact in the workplace when returning to work. It includes decision tools to help you assess readiness, a tool for implementing worker protection measures, and other resources to help facilitate a seamless transition back to work.
27. GoCanvas Employee Health Screening and Vaccination Log
This Employee Health Screening and Vaccination Log from GoCanvas is a simple and easy to use tool to help you maintain compliance and ensure a safe environment for employees and customers.
28. COVID-19 Employee Self- Screening Solution
Employee screening is one of the most commonly implemented mitigation measures as businesses return to work, allowing employees exhibiting symptoms to isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. mHealthCoach’s COVID-19 Employee Self-Screening Solution streamlines the screening process as well as offers tools for managing testing and vaccinations.
A Microsoft and United Health Group collaboration, ProtectWell was designed using CDC guidance and was clinically developed by medical experts. It includes tools and resources for both individuals and administrators through a mobile app and web app.
30. Healthy at Work
Healthy at Work, developed by Verily, offers a suite of tools for employers to help organizations operationalize their return to work. It combines clinical intelligence, data science, and a tech-enabled approach to personalized care to promote health and safety in shared spaces.
ReturnSafe is a biosecurity company specifically created to address COVID-19. ReturnSafe offers a HIPAA-compliant platform with screening and contact tracing technology to help businesses maintain a safe work environment and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.
32. COVID-19 Ready-Resource Tools and Samples
The Society for Human Resource Management offers a selection of quick reference resources to stay up to date on the latest guidance and regulations, sample forms, sample mandatory and voluntary vaccine policies, and more.
Three key resources from COVID-19 Ready-Resource Tools and Samples:
33. COVID-19 Crisis Response Center
ThinkHR maintains a robust resource library in its COVID-19 Crisis Response Center, including sample policies and forms, videos and whitepapers, webinars, toolkits, and guides.
Three key resources from COVID-19 Crisis Response Center:
34. Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains comprehensive guidance for businesses and employers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The CDC’s guidelines cover everything from the role businesses and employers can play in responding to COVID-19 to specifics on screening, testing, and maintaining healthy business operations to communication, training, and policy development.
Three key topics in Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):
35. What Employers Need to Do to Re-Open Post-COVID-19
EHS Today outlines the key guidelines set forth by the CDC, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as recommendations from experts for developing a plan to safely return to work as restrictions are lifted. The article includes valuable insights from attorneys from the law firms of Graydon Head & Ritchey, Bass, Berry & Sims, and Thompson Hine.
Three key topics in What Employers Need to Do to Re-Open Post-COVID-19:
36. Coronavirus Return to Work Guidelines, Checklist Included
Paycor’s guidelines for returning to work include a summary of the CDC’s recommendations as well as suggestions for determining which employees should return to work first, considerations for implementing social distancing procedures, and handling symptoms and exposure to COVID-19.
Three key topics in Coronavirus Return to Work Guidelines, Checklist Included:
37. Considerations and Practicalities for Returning Employees to Work During a Pandemic
Holland & Knight discusses important considerations for businesses to weigh as restrictions are lifted and more non-essential businesses can begin reopening. These guidelines cover not only the health and physical safety considerations for returning to work but also other factors such as logistical challenges and health coverage.
Three key topics in Considerations and Practicalities for Returning Employees to Work During a Pandemic:
38. Returning Employees to Work: What Should US Employers Think About?
Arnold & Porter examines a number of factors businesses should consider as employees return to work. These guidelines and considerations focus primarily on labor implications, such as liability for businesses should an employee contract COVID-19 in the workplace, hiring, and leaves of absence.
Three key topics in Returning Employees to Work: What Should US Employers Think About?:
39. OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work
These guidelines from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) aren’t standards or regulations, but rather recommendations and descriptions of mandatory standards related to workplace health and safety. The guide includes answers to employer frequently asked questions, a summary of the applicable OSHA standards and protections employers are required to implement in the workplace, and information on OSHA programs and services.
Three key topics in OSHA Guidance on Returning to Work:
40. COVID-19 Pandemic: Employer Re-Opening and Return to Work Guidelines
This guide from Crowell & Moring outlines 21 significant employee-related issues that businesses should consider when developing return to work plans, including legal and regulatory considerations such as public health orders and current regulatory guidance and operational considerations such as re-staffing and telework.
Three key topics in COVID-19 Pandemic: Employer Re-Opening and Return to Work Guidelines:
41. Back to Work Safely™
Back to Work Safely™ is sponsored by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). The website is a comprehensive resource for health and physical safety guidelines, offering detailed re-opening guidelines for a variety of industries including bars and restaurants, business services, amateur sports, laboratories, higher education institutions, and many others.
Three key resources from Back to Work Safely™:
42. The Executive’s Guide to Returning to the Workplace
This guide from Gartner offers valuable insights for executives who are spearheading return to work planning for their organizations. It offers research-backed guidance on preparing the workplace and employees to return to work, developing a re-exit plan, and options for safely phasing-in a return to the workplace.
Three key topics in The Executive’s Guide to Returning to the Workplace:
43. Reopening Workplaces Amid COVID-19: Key Considerations for Non-Essential Businesses
National Law Review provides a comprehensive summary of the guidelines for returning to work for non-essential businesses from regulatory and government agencies, including the CDC and OSHA, as well as state-specific guidance and possible legal consequences, such as enforcement actions.
Three key topics in Reopening Workplaces Amid COVID-19: Key Considerations for Non-Essential Businesses:
44. Return to the Workplace
PwC’s Return to the Workplace checklist includes actionable steps in several categories such as strategy development, operating under and adapting to changing conditions, and developing policies and procedures.
Three key points from Return to the Workplace:
45. COVID-19 Return-to-Work Guidance for Businesses
Agility Recovery outlines the key steps for preparing your workplace and employees for the return to work, covering steps and considerations for developing a return to work plan, strategies for a phased employee return, employee education and communication, and more.
Three key points from COVID-19 Return-to-Work Guidance for Businesses:
46. COVID-19 Back-to-Work Checklist
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides action steps across 10 key issues including communications, compensation, remote work, workplace safety, employee benefits, recall procedures, new hire paperwork, policy changes, business continuity plans, and unions.
Three key points from COVID-19 Back-to-Work Checklist:
47. 8 Return-to-Work Considerations for Employers Amid COVID-19
Avalere points out that businesses will need to be resilient, flexible, innovative, and forward-looking to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world. Their checklist covers workforce assessments, coordination with officials on local conditions, compliance and legal standards, and other essential considerations for employers to address when returning to work.
Three key points from 8 Return-to-Work Considerations for Employers Amid COVID-19:
48. Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace
This detailed checklist from OSHA is designed to help employers identify the risks of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and determine the most appropriate control measures to implement to maintain a safe physical work environment.
Three key points from Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace:
49. 7 Early Return-to-Workplace Lessons from Asia
Gartner outlines seven lessons learned from employers that have returned to work in Asia that employers in other parts of the world can follow to ease the transition back to work.
Three key points from 7 Early Return-to-Workplace Lessons from Asia:
50. Return to Business and Post-Pandemic Planning Checklist
Seyfarth’s checklist for returning to work and post-pandemic planning covers logistical concerns to address before returning to work, addressing concerns related to customers, vendors, and visitors, tax implications, corporate governance, and other essential considerations to help employers plan a safe and functional return to the workplace.
Three key points from Return to Business and Post-Pandemic Planning Checklist: