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NSC Report: How COVID 19 Will Fundamentally Change Future Workplaces

COVID-19, Hospitality / Retail, Industrial / Construction, Office, Safety News

A new National Safety Council report found continued remote work, increased focus on flexible work arrangements and mental health, and a renewed commitment to workplace safety to be among the most impactful workplace changes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on in-depth interviews with safety, medical and health experts representing 13 industries, the State of the Response: The Future World of Work report also identified key factors business leaders must take into account moving forward.


Key Workplace Shifts Resulting from COVID-19:

  • Operations – moving to remote work arrangements for as many employees as possible
  • Human Resources – providing flexible work arrangements (e.g., hours, days, scheduling)
  • Stress, Mental Health and Wellbeing – promoting or increasing employee assistance program (EAP) benefit offerings
  • Communications – providing regular communication via multiple channels
  • Organizational Culture – increasing focus on safety and health using COVID-19 as a catalyst
  • Technology – increasing use of mobile app software to track infections
  • Sustainability – rethinking the need for physical space and travel

3 Critical Issues to Address

The new report can serve as a foundation for organizations looking to navigate the post-pandemic world of work. Based on the findings, NSC developed a framework for addressing three critical issues moving forward: work modalities, such as how to address remote work and flexible schedules; worker expectations, such as investing in mental health resources and employee support; and work enablers, such as embracing technology to help augment job tasks.

The Future World of Work report is the third in a series of reports discussed on Dec. 10 at State of Response & Future World of Work Virtual Summit, presented by the SAFER initiative at the National Safety Council. Aimed at helping businesses, policymakers and leaders, some of the nation’s top experts on infectious disease response, workplace safety and business thought leadership discussed our national response thus far – where it succeeded and where it failed – and provided insights to prepare employers for what comes next.

One of the major themes discussed at the Summit was the need for COVID-19 vaccine guidance in the workplace. Business leaders are looking for direction around their role in vaccine implementation – from education to distribution. NSC will continue to provide employers guidance utilizing expertise from its vast network of partners, including the SAFER task force, to help them navigate the next phase of the pandemic.

BLS Survey Data Shows Current Business Response to the Pandemic

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has developed new data on how U.S. businesses changed their operations and employment since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic through September 2020. Key results of the survey include:

  • Nationwide, 52 percent of establishments (4.4 million) told employees not to work (with or without pay) for at least some point during the survey reference period. Among establishments that told employees not to work, 51 percent (employing 43.5 million workers) continued to pay some or all of their employees while they were not working. Among establishments that told employees not to work, 42 percent paid a portion of health insurance premiums for some or all of their employees while they were not working.
  • During the pandemic, 31 percent of establishments (employing 68.6 million workers) increased telework offered to employees. In addition, 14 percent of establishments (employing 35.4 million workers) increased the amount of paid sick leave provided to employees.
  • Nationwide, 62 percent of establishments (5.3 million) received a coronavirus-related loan or grant tied to rehiring or maintaining employees on the payroll. These establishments employed 74.2 million workers, representing 59 percent of total U.S. private-sector employment. Among establishments that told employees not to work and received a loan or grant, 59 percent continued to pay some or all employees while they were not working. By contrast, among establishments that told employees not to work and did not receive a loan or grant, 38 percent continued to pay some or all employees while they were not working.


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