Companies are monitoring the spread of the Delta-Covid variant as they adjust return-to-office plans and give flexibility to employees, a board member of three Fortune 500 companies told CNBC on Friday.
“I believe hybrid offerings will continue to exist … Flexibility is here to stay, especially if you want to be competitive for talent,” said Shellye Archambeau, director of Verizon, Nordstrom and Roper Technologies. She is also the former CEO of MetricStream, which makes governance, risk management and compliance software.
Archambeau said companies’ concerns about the reopening are being driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, which was first discovered in India. It is now the dominant strain of Covid in the United States, causing cases and deaths to rise again, especially in largely unvaccinated communities.
“Companies are watching the data very carefully,” said Archambeau. “What I see is that they are trying to be flexible by giving employees the option to return to work, but still watching the numbers and the evolution of the tariffs.”
Archambeau’s remarks come as big corporations try to figure out how to get back to the office safely.
Few companies require their employees to be fully vaccinated before returning to the office, Archambeau said. Instead, she said companies are strongly encouraging and trying to make it easier for employees to get vaccinated, even volunteering to return to the office, and encouraging the wearing of masks and physical distancing protocols for unvaccinated workers.
According to a survey conducted in April by Arizona State University with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, more than 60% of companies in the US require their employees to have a vaccination certificate, while 44% require all employees to be vaccinated, and 31% encourage vaccinations .
Archambeau, a strategic advisor to the president of ASU, said peer pressure will soon play a bigger role in getting employees to get vaccinated.
Vaccinating children also allows more employees to return to the office so they can continue to attend school, participate in personal activities, and access childcare services.
“I think over time, companies are strongly encouraging their employees to get vaccinated,” said Archambeau. “The way they can work, the kind of roles they can play, is influenced over time, in my opinion, by whether or not they are vaccinated. … People will want to be vaccinated in order to actually do well in the company. “