Several hospital systems that previously refused to make vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers are now willing to take that step.
Employees of Google in California who have returned to the offices on a voluntary basis are again wearing mask in closed spaces.
Vaccination mandates are still far from the dominant approach. Photo Kevin Hagen / The New York Times.
Goldman sachs is considering reinstating diagnostic tests for fully vaccinated employees at the company’s New York City offices, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision had been made.
And on Monday, July 19, Manzana told his workers that would postpone your return date to the office from September to October.
When companies began announcing their tentative plans to go back to office this spring, there was a sense of optimism behind the messages.
COVID-19 cases were declining in the United States, and the vaccination campaign was picking up its pace.
When Twitter reopened its San Francisco office this month at 50% capacity for those who wanted to return, only vaccinated workers were allowed access. Photo Cayce Clifford / The New York Times.
Employers typically expected their employees to vaccinate on their own, motivated by raffle tickets, paid days off, and other benefits, if the consensus of the medical community did not convince them.
In recent days, that tone has changed suddenly.
Variant delta, a more contagious version of the coronavirus, is sweeping the country.
At Apple, his work team was told that he would delay the date of his return to the office. Photo Jim Wilson / The New York Times.
Less than half of Americans are fully vaccinated, exacerbating the situation.
Nationally, the daily average of new coronavirus infections has increased 180 percent in 14 days, to 45,343 by Thursday; and deaths – an already declining number – were up 30 percent from two weeks ago, to nearly 252, according to the New York Times case count.
Vaccines not available yet for children under 12, many of whom are preparing to return to face-to-face classes at their schools this fall.
All of this adds up to a difficult estimate for America’s business leaders, who had hoped the country was already on its way to full normalcy, with an imminent return of employees to offices.
Instead, companies are now being forced to make tough decisions that they hoped could be avoided, such as reversing reopening plans or imposing mandatory vaccinations for employees.
All of this while still dealing with unpredictable nature of the pandemic.
“It’s emotionally draining for all of us, and it drives senior management teams crazy,” said Bob Sutton, a Stanford University psychology professor who studies leadership and organizational issues.
He said some executives he had coached were “pulling their hair out” on what to do.
For employers wary of the legal ramifications and negative political backlash to make vaccines mandatory, the situation has started to change, albeit little.
“At the beginning there were many employers worried about jumping ahead of time and being among the first; it’s a contentious issue, ”said David Barron, an employment attorney with the Cozen O’Connor law firm.
“That estimate starts to change a bit when you see another spike in cases.”
In New York
The Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio on Friday encouraged private employers to require workers to get vaccinated.
He also said the city could increase the number of municipal workers who would be required to get vaccinated or undergo weekly diagnostic tests.
Recent court decisions have upheld the rights of employers to require vaccination, including a ruling that said Houston Methodist Hospital could require healthcare workers to be vaccinated.
On Monday, a federal judge ruled that Indiana University could also make the vaccine mandatory for students.
“The legal authority continues to support that employers be allowed to require vaccinations if they wish,” said Douglas Brayley, an employment attorney with the international law firm Ropes & Gray.
Most companies are not yet implementing the mandatory vaccine strategy.
In addition, the risk that the coronavirus represents for a large part of the population is much lower than it was at the worst moment of the pandemic.
New cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain a fraction compared to previous peaks, and are largely located in areas with low vaccination rates.
Vaccines are effective against the worst effects of COVID-19, including those of the delta variant.
“The big question is not so much: ‘Can we keep protected to workers in our facilities? ‘ but ‘Will workers be comfortable enough to come back, even with good controls in place?’ ”said Joseph Allen, associate professor at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health, who advises companies on strategies against COVID-19.
“There is a renewed anxiety that perhaps it had begun to dissipate in the spring, but that it has returned ”.
That tension can make it more difficult to convince workers to return to the offices.
In Silicon ValleyIn California, technology companies largely embraced the new era of remote work during the pandemic.
But not all of them have been willing to let their employees stay home forever.
In June, Apple’s CEO, Tim cook, told employees they had to return to the offices at least three days a week, beginning in September.
About 1,800 employees sent Cook a letter requesting a strategy more flexible.
Cook did not respond, but days later Apple released an internal video in which company executives reaffirmed their commitment to getting workers back to their offices.
In the video, Sumbul Desai, who helps run Apple’s digital health division, encouraged workers to get vaccinated, but stopped short of saying it would be a requirement. required, according to a transcript seen by The New York Times.
Some employees did not like the video.
“OK, so you want me to risk my life to get back to the office, which will also decrease my productivity, and you don’t give me any logical reason why I have to do that? ” said Ashley Gjovik, Senior Engineering Program Manager.
When the company decided on Monday to delay its return to the office date, a group of employees drafted a new letter proposing a one-year pilot program so that people could work from home if they wished.
The letter claimed that an informal survey of more than 1,000 Apple employees had revealed that nearly two-thirds he would question his future at the company if he had to return to the offices.
On July 16, Wells Fargo told its employees that on September 7 it would begin bringing employees who currently work remotely back to the offices.
But unlike the banks that previously called on their workers to return with an assertive tone about a new stage of the pandemic, the memorandum, sent by the bank’s chief operating officer Scott Powell, showed a remarkable degree of de caution.
“The date communicated in this message depends on our assumption that the pandemic remains stable or continues to improve,” Powell wrote.
“We will continue to actively monitor the situation and any possible changes, including new variants.”
Jack Nicas, Brooks Barnes, Clifford Krauss and Sarah Kessler contributed to this report.
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