Business is ramping up once more as Covid-19 restrictions are being eased across the globe. Organizations are busy prepping the office for the inevitable return of their employees. But what will happen if said employees don’t want to come back to the office?

According to research conducted by Envoy, 66 percent of employees say they fear for their health and safety if they have to return to the office, while nearly 48 percent of people say they would prefer to stick with hybrid work arrangements in which they can continue to work from home once or twice a week. Interestingly enough, it is the younger, Gen-Z professionals who are lobbying for a chance to keep working virtually.

The pandemic has put forth brand new challenges that has sparked many conversations between employees and employers about conventional work culture. Some of these discussions include: when employees are justified to refuse retuning to the office or whether employers can force employees to return.

Employers vs Employees

Understanding why employees are reluctant to return to the office despite the lessening threat of Covid-19 is key. If the situation allows and employers are confident they could ensure their workers’ safety, a return to the workplace is completely warranted, on the employers’ part, to try convincing their employees to return to the office.

On the other hand, outright forcing employees to return without listening to their concerns could backfire tremendously, leaving company morale and retention rates low. Before taking action, employers must be advised on employees’ rights to refuse going back to the workplace; especially if employers fail to eliminate the potential danger within the workplace, or fail to provide the appropriate tools for safety and risk assessment.

However, there is also the possibility that some professionals have simply gotten used to the remote working lifestyle and simply do not want to return to long commutes, business attire, and other formal obligations that are required in the workplace.

Employers are going to have to find a balance between employees’ legal rights and understandable health concerns with the organization’s business needs. On one hand, employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees. On the other, employees must provide reasonable justification as to why they do not wish to comply.


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