Returning to the workplace: Key considerations

‘We need to be comfortable with uncertainty,’ says attorney David Reed.

May 14, 2020

Returning to the physical workplace is a hot topic among employers as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to bring changes to the marketplace.

David Reed, a partner at the law firm Reed & Jolly, addressed this issue during a Compliance Roundtable offered as a CUNA member benefit.

The big question for credit unions is when to return to reopen their facilities. “We need to be comfortable with uncertainty right now,” Reed says. “We are literally in unprecedented times. The one thing we know is the world won’t return to its former dimensions when we get to the other side of this.”

For example, Reed estimates 20% to 40% percent of members will not return to in-branch transactions.

“Understand and appreciate what your workflow looks like right now,” Reed says. “I am sure you have increased your remote production, not only your work from home but the touchpoints you have with members.”

In many ways, the move to remote services may be a benefit for credit unions, Reed says. “Think of how long you tried to get your members to transition to e-statements. Today we have people accessing services through many different ways every day.”

The decision to reopen businesses will be made at the state level. Most likely, people won’t return to your facilities all at once, Reed says.

When deciding which employees should first return to the office, Reed suggests identifying three tiers of staffers:

  1. Essential staff for the first wave of deployment.
  2. Staff who are vulnerable due to risk factors.
  3. Employees who are fearful about returning.

The workplace employees return to will be transformed. Among the changes employers may adopt:

  • Screening employees upon admittance to facilities.
  • Examining office density to ensure social distancing.
  • Using visuals to display foot-traffic routing.
  • Installing shields between workspaces and barriers to control traffic flow.

Reed advises implementing changes gradually, as some employees will struggle with them. “Some people are just not good with change. Recognize that going in.”

Reed also recently co-hosted another webinar on returning to work, co-hosted with CUNA Mutual's Carlos Molina. The webinar is free to CUNA members.