Transitioning back to the office is a hot topic for many ASPECT BC members. In fact, it was one of the main topics of discussion at this week's members' meeting. Some organizations have been working in the office with the staff at full capacity for months, some have had a hybrid approach with some at home and some in the office, and others have not worked in their offices since this pandemic began. There were two issues at the heart of the discussion: the safety of those working in an environment with distressed clients or community members entering the office, and navigating the office safety when not everyone can be vaccinated.
While keeping staff safe from the virus is at the front of my mind, I was interested to hear of member concerns about physical safety. One organization has placed security guards inside their resource room, several others have panic buttons hardwired or software at the ready, and another member shared the safety code term they use when a staff member needs help (red file). Increased and/or refresher de-escalating conflict training is happening, too. From the feedback, organizations with gradual return-to-work plans are a good way to help staff feel safe as many emerge from our pandemic bubbles.
Whether or not you and your coworkers are vaccinated and whether your employer can demand vaccinations, is a little more fluid. It appears to me that the legal landscape is evolving and that depending on the type of work being done, there are some areas for clarification. Below is a brief list of resources for you to peruse.
I expect the anxiety about returning to the office, opening the doors to the public, and working in closer quarters will likely dissipate over the coming weeks as we all get used to the new reality. As we navigate this together, it's important to check our inner pandemic judge (we all have one), wear a mask to prevent hurting someone else, and dig deep to find the patience needed for the summer ahead. We will keep you updated.
CEO, ASPECT BC