More than a year into the ongoing pandemic, employers are increasingly asking their workers to return to the workplace. And nowhere is that change of pace more apparent than in Dallas, according to a report in the USA Today.
More than 4 in 10 office workers (41.2%) in the Dallas area are now logging at least some time back in their offices, based upon data compiled by Kastle Systems. Houston (39.3%) and Austin (38.8%) rank second and third, respectively, on the top 10 city list, and each of the three Texas cities comes in well ahead of the combined average of the ten leading cities (26.1%).
Employers that are still considering when and how to bring workers back in-house would do best to consider whether working in their houses is the preferred method for their people, according to experts.
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“There is quite a bit of evidence now the many workers are actually happy working at home during this last year. Some of them have even suggested that they would quit their job if they were forced to go back into the workplace,” said Doug Kiel, Ph.D., a professor of public and nonprofit management at UT-Dallas. “So, employers are going to have to be really smart. It is going to be a little bit chaotic at first.”
In addition to pandemic-related accommodations like social distancing and providing proper protective equipment, employers should consider the mental health of their employees with respect to the major change they are asking of people when they head back into the office.
“Organizations need to understand that folks are going to be anxious, and the best way to get people back to work in the most productive way is to create an environment where they feel safe and that they have a voice,” said Kelli Laos, Chief Clinical Officer with Metrocare Services, the largest provider of behavioral healthcare in Dallas County.
“Because people just don’t downshift that fast, right? We don’t change, especially after over a year,” Laos said about the adjustment from working at home to working at the office. “And we are still in it. We are in a better position, but the pandemic is not over by any means, so I think organizations and businesses need to be very conscientious of that.”
Laos stressed that the normal anxiety associated with returning to work would include being able to identify that specific change as the source of one’s troubles, and also being able to identify some solutions that can help reduce that anxiety.