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With the end of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency May 11, more employers are asking employees who were working remotely during the pandemic to return to the office, at least for a few days a week.

While some employers are insisting employees return to work in the office or lose their job, others found during the pandemic they could work efficiently and effectively with a hybrid office. Certain businesses are allowing employees to work part of the workweek in the office and part at home, but others want their workforce in-person full time.

Earlier this year, Amazon and Starbucks notified their corporate workers that they were to return to the office three days a week, and Disney called employees back to the office four days a week. Meta has informed employees assigned to an office they are to return to in-person work three days a week, beginning Sept. 5. Google is now tracking badge swipes to ensure in-person attendance.

Not all jobs, however, can be done remotely. Nurses, emergency medical technicians and bus drivers, for example, can’t work from home.

What is your company doing with your workforce now that the public health emergency is over?

Still popular

I believe remote work is still very popular, particularly among job seekers over age 50. While many people prefer remote work, others would rather work in an office.

One client, Security Source in Massachusetts, downsized to a smaller footprint because not all employees are working in the office and, as a security and loss prevention business, most of its customers don’t come into the office. I was recruiting for the company and found a candidate who wanted to work in the office instead of remotely. The candidate found an office a more stimulating environment that makes it easier to get the job done.

Studies on the number of people working from home, conducted by various groups, have had varied results and it may be due to differences in how remote work is measured.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released data in March indicating an increase in employee returns to the office, with 72.5 percent of the employers reporting their employees never or rarely teleworked in 2022, an increase from 60.1 percent in 2021. The survey did not include government employers, nonprofit organizations or those who are self-employed.

Other studies on all employees – both in public and private businesses – have found remote work is still widespread. A Pew Research Center survey done in February found that 41 percent of workers who are employed in jobs that can be done from home are working a hybrid schedule, an increase over the 35 percent who reportedly were working both in-person and remotely in January 2022.

Companies downsizing

The law firm Fletcher Tilton will move later this year into two floors in the Mercantile Center at 100 Front St. in Worcester. Michael Sweeney, executive director of Fletcher Tilton, told the Worcester Business Journal the firm, which is downsizing from 30,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet, has been operating with a hybrid model and reducing its space will enable it to redirect resources to other areas of the business.

Employers should stay relevant and competitive. If your company has roles that can be done remotely, I recommend offering a hybrid model of work. Businesses allowing remote work will be the employer of choice for candidates.

Remote work must be motivated and organized. Employees working from home aren’t on an island, but they don’t have teammates or peers working with them.  People must decide what they want personally and focus on obtaining that type of work. Working remotely enables people to work for companies in other parts of the country.

Allowing employees to work remotely leads to a happier workforce and costs less because the business can downsize its footprint.  But it’s more difficult to manage staff when some employees are working from home. Communicating with remote workers frequently, keeping them engaged and providing them with training and tools for technical support will help you oversee a remote workforce.

Flexible schedules

Some employees prefer a flexible work schedule that will fit into their lifestyle. Parents with children, for example, may have after-school activities, workers may have caregiving responsibilities or they may have to run errands during standard work hours.

Offering staggered work schedules, such as 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or an alternative work structure doesn’t cost your company anything but enables you to cast a wider net when recruiting.

If you’d like to discuss hybrid models, I have experience rolling them out.

When I worked as a Human Resource manager at Rolls Royce, we sought feedback on benefits. Several employees requested flexible work schedules. We came up with a proposal for flexible work hours in the office and rolled out a three-month summer program to determine whether the schedule would be successful. Department managers oversaw the program and resolved minor glitches. The trial was a success and we instituted permanent flexible hours.

If you’re interested in setting up a flexible work schedule in your company, I can design, develop and implement one for you. Just reach out to Melody L. Beach Consulting Group at melody@melodybeachconsulting.com.

50+ Job Seekers workshops

The 50+ Job Seekers Networking Group’s workshops are free and virtual on Zoom, with some held in person.

The group has returned to in-person events the first and third Tuesdays of the month at the Natick Community-Senior Center and the first and third Wednesdays of the month at the Worcester Senior Center. Registrations for those workshops are limited to the first 20 people who sign up.

Remaining workshops this month are:

  • In-person:
  • Tuesday, June 20, 2 to 3:30 p.m., Natick Community-Senior Center, 117 E. Central St., Natick: “Closing & Negotiating the Deal” with Ed Lawrence.

Registration is limited to the first 20 people. Register here.

  • Wednesday, June 21, 2 to 3:30 p.m., Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence St., Worcester: “Closing & Negotiating the Deal,” led by me.

Registration is limited to the first 20 people. Register here.

  • Virtual:
  • Tuesday, June 20, 10 to 11:30 a.m., “Reinvention is Possible” with me.

When you were young, adults asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Now that you are an adult, you know you don’t become just one thing. Humans have a need to grow, learn, develop new passions, and face new challenges. But finding your next passion and deciding on your next act can be difficult. In this session, I’ll help you think about “what’s next.”  You’ll learn tips for creating your next great adventure:

  • Ways to profit from your passions during semi-retirement.
  • How to research the world of possibilities.

Why you should attend:

  • Your Plan A should not be your only plan.
  • You will learn how to create your second-act career and envision your next chapter in life.

Register here.

  • Tuesday, June 27, 10 to 11:30 a.m., “Closing & Negotiating the Deal,” an interactive workshop with me.

Congratulations – You just received an offer. You’ve been unemployed for a while; so naturally you intend to accept. But you might want to pause. Negotiating for a better deal – without jeopardizing the offer on the table – might be easier than you think. Join us to learn the art of closing and negotiating to obtain the deal you want and deserve while leaving the hiring manager still excited to have you join the team.

Why you need to know about this: Negotiating is a learned and useful skill that helps you get more while not offending other parties. Proper negotiating enables both you and your new employer to feel good – and that’s something everyone wants when starting the next segment of their career journey.

Register here.

Looking for advice?

Contact me by downloading my digital business card by texting HRPRO to 21000 or emailing me at melody@melodybeachconsulting.com.


Melody L. Beach Consulting Group
Proud Member of
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Webster Dudley Business Alliance (WDBA)
Webster Dudley Business Alliance (WDBA)
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
PARWCC The Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches Woman in Business (WIB)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
BNI Referral Champions Worcester Chapter
Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
50+ Job Seekers
Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) of Central Massachusetts
Women's Information Network (WIN)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

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Melody L. Beach Consulting Group, Human Resources, Southbridge, MA