August 3, 2021 | Geneva Flanagan-Benedict
You’ve bought pants that are not of the “sweat” variety, you’ve scheduled the dog walker, and you’ve got your professional masks ready. If you are anything like me, you have a nervous excitement about returning to the workplace. Personally, I can’t wait to see people again, but I’m also concerned with the safety of myself, my family, and my co-workers. Companies say that they are doing the right things, proper sanitization, hand sanitizers at every desk, social distancing in place. But how do we know that our offices are safe to return to?
Human Resource (HR) departments had a heavy lift when, according to Pew Research, the pandemic required more than 70% of the workforce to be remote. It wasn’t simply about remote work logistics; they had to continue to recruit, assist in performance management, and ensure learning and development were still available. Many companies successfully transitioned based on the efforts of their HR teams. With things returning to normal, their focus must shift from that heavy lift to the exact opposite - getting people back into the office and doing it safely. Employees will be depending on their support and leaning on HR now more than ever.
Chad Sheridan, CIO at NetImpact Strategies, believes the key to returning to work safely is action. He expressed that “words matter, but the talk is beginning to wear thin.” HR will be expected to provide much of that action and will be the lynchpin to its success. There is a huge opportunity for the demonstration of action to modernize and support processes that enable safe workplaces. Organizations should provide financial support to the often-underfunded cost pool that is HR to make this happen. When speaking with Chad about this opportunity, he shared that NetImpact Strategies has already been working with major software players that have built capabilities to support a safe workplace. He believes that companies can implement these capabilities to provide a much better solution and still offer the softer side of policies and leadership.
One of those major players is ServiceNow, a workflow platform that is often already in use across many government agencies and private businesses. ServiceNow has developed a Safe Workplace Suite that enables agencies and organizations to leverage their existing software to provide data-driven management for returning to the workplace. The Suite includes such tools and apps as vaccination status to assist with workplace readiness assessments, employee health screenings to verify employees meet entry requirements, and workplace PPE inventory management to meet physical safety needs. In addition, the Suite incorporates dashboards that provide up-to-the-minute status of an organization’s readiness to reopen. Earlier, I mentioned the balance of needing employees back on-site while still implementing the softer side of HR. To support this, the ServiceNow Safe Workplace Suite also provides employee readiness surveys. These surveys provide valuable information on how an organization’s efforts are helping answer the central question: how do we know employers are doing the things that need to be done to ensure that it is safe to come back to the office?
The Safe Workplace Suite is one approach developed to organize the chaos that the return to work will cause and helps people like me who are nervous about their health and safety get out of those sweatpants and back to my desk quicker. As a data nerd and a SHRM certified professional, this is the type of tool that I can get behind to provide business insight that is so desperately needed in HR departments across the globe. Fortunately, NetImpact Strategies is well versed in the customization and implementation of this tool based on client needs, and there is no doubt more to come.