Employer return-to-office initiatives have shown various levels of success, with employees citing concerns with childcare, commuting, and public transit as reasons they are reluctant to work from the office. Rising crime rates in some cities have further complicated return-to-office plans, causing some employees to question whether they are comfortable enough to return to offices in downtown locations. While employers have little control over issues that lead to crime where their offices are located, utilizing the five actions below may help to increase employee occupancy in office buildings.
- Increase building security presence– If your organization is in charge of security personnel at the office, increasing security resources may be necessary. This may include additional security staff, security cameras/ systems, or other mechanisms to beef up security in the area. Working with property management to establish this goal may be necessary.
- Improve communication– Continuously monitor conditions in the areas surrounding the office. Employers should consider establishing a system to provide emergency notifications to employees. If situations arise that may make it unsafe or not ideal to enter the office, immediate communications can be sent via text or phone call to employees, alerting them to work from home. The benefit of these types of systems is that they can also be used for other communications, such as inclement weather. Transparent communication with employees demonstrating the steps being taken regarding concern for their safety should be a priority throughout the return-to-office process.
- Work with the local police– In some cases, local police may be able to provide support near a building or particularly problematic area to help decrease risk of criminal activity. Having a police presence and remaining in communication with law enforcement may bring some level of comfort to employees commuting to the area.
- Flexible office days or remote work from alternate locations– Allowing employees to return to the office in a flexible manner (three times a week, for example) can help alleviate some of the stress that is involved with return-to-office. In some situations, permitting work-from-home or other means of remote work may be beneficial. If your organization has multiple offices, providing temporary accommodations or relocation to another office entirely may be an option to consider for those employees who would normally report to the area within the area of increased crime.
- Move Offices– One of the last-resort options is to move. Moving the office to an area less likely to experience upticks in crime may be the most extreme and costly option but should be considered if there are major concerns with employee long-term safety.
There’s no “easy” answer to this complex issue. A combination of these options may be necessary to assist with increasing employee return-to-office rates. We hope these tips help you and your organization plan for a more streamlined return-to-office experience.
Contact an MMA Safety Consultant for questions or concerns regarding employee safety.