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Coronavirus changes employer, employee expectations as more people return to work

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Posted at 2:46 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 20:54:50-04

While Ohio and the rest of the nation slowly continues to open up after shutting down to slow coronavirus, many workers are finding their employers are more likely to work with them to establish a work routine.

One change tied to coronavirus that Tyara Wilmink doesn’t mind is her employer’s sick leave policy.

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Wilmink talks about her employer's changing sick-leave policies, which became more relaxed because of the coronavirus.

“If I’m feeling a little under the weather, I know that they’ll grant me the time off needed,” said Wilmink.

Before COVID-19 disrupted her work in a restaurant and catering business, she would often need a doctor’s note to miss work. Now, as an expecting mother in the middle of a pandemic, she’s more willing to ask for time off and her boss is more likely to accommodate her.

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Many downtown offices are largely empty while companies keep their employees working remote to maintain social distancing.

“I’m glad that they allow us to take the precautionary steps, they’re definitely looking at their health a lot more now,” said Wilmink.

“Having those conversations is critical right now,” said Robert Half International Cleveland Branch Manager Megan Keeney.

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Keeney says many employers are finding new ways to balance productivity with alternative work circumstances to allow employees to stay safe and care for their families.

Keeney said some Ohio businesses have been going “back to normal” as soon as they could.

“There’s some companies that are all back in the office and ready to go and not all the employees are back on the same page,” said Keeney.

So, she said, many companies are adapting. A Robert Half study found that because of the pandemic 79% of workers said they think their company should "allow employees to work from home more frequently.”

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Parents are getting caught between an employer asking them to return to work in an office with limited access to childcare or uneasiness about exposing their children to germs from other households.

Before the pandemic, Keeney said employers generally required some kind of extenuating circumstance to stay home. Now, that could change.

“There are a lot of things people are putting into perspective right now and trying to analyze what makes the most sense for everyone,” said Keeney.

For parents who have an office job, that could mean shorter hours at their desk, more time at home, but also new expectations.

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Changing needs from businesses have commercial real estate experts anticipating changing strategies to how and where companies rent or buy space for their workers.

Both employees and their bosses have realized that much of their work can be done remotely so employees are more likely to ask for flexibility.

“Because of the increase of demand from the employee standpoint, there’s more than likely going to be a hybrid-model out there,” said Keeney.

If your employer is starting to call workers back into the office and you’re not comfortable going back quite yet:

  • Communicate with your manager. Many workplaces are much more likely to accommodate alternate plans.
  • Let your supervisor know your routine, when you will get work done and when you might be needed for family responsibilities.
  • Create a plan to deal with distractions like pets or social media to keep working efficiently.

This story is part of The Rebound: Northeast Ohio, News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:

Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.

Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.

Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.

Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.

Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.