Back to the office amid rising crime
Employers’ return-to-the-office initiatives have shown varying levels of success, with employees citing childcare concerns, rising COVID-19 and exposure, as well as commuting/public transit as reasons for not wanting to work from the office. Rising crime rates in some cities have further complicated return-to-office plans, causing some employees to question whether they are comfortable enough to return to their offices in downtown locations. While employers have little control over the issues that lead to crime where their offices are located, using the five measures below may help increase employee occupancy in office buildings.
1. Increasing the security presence of buildings – If your organization is responsible for security personnel in the office, it may be necessary to increase security resources. This may include additional security personnel, security cameras/systems or other mechanisms to enhance security in the area. Working with the property management to determine this goal may be necessary.
2. Improve communication – Continuous monitoring of conditions in the areas surrounding the office. Employers should consider creating a system to provide emergency notifications to employees. If situations arise that might make entering the office unsafe or not ideal, instant communications can be sent via text or phone call to employees, alerting them to work from home. The benefit of these types of systems is that they can also be used for other communications, such as in inclement weather.
Transparent communication with employees explaining what steps are being taken to look after their safety should be a priority throughout the return-to-office process.
3. Work with the local police In some cases, local police may be able to provide support near a particularly problematic building or area to help reduce the risk of criminal activity. A police presence and staying in touch with law enforcement may provide some level of comfort to employees who commute to the area.
4. Flexible working days or telework from alternative locations Allowing employees to return to the office in a flexible way (3 times a week, for example) can help relieve some of the stress involved in returning to the office. In some cases, it may be beneficial to allow work from home or other means of telecommuting. If your organization has multiple offices, temporary accommodations or moving to another office entirely may be an option to consider for those employees who will be reporting to the area within a growing crime area.
5. Office relocation – One of the last resort options is relocation. Moving the office to an area that is less likely to experience an increase in crime may be the most extreme and expensive option, but it is one to consider if there are major concerns about the long-term safety of employees.
There is no “easy” answer to this complex issue. It may be necessary to combine these options to help increase employee return rates to the office. We hope these tips help you plan your organization for a simpler back-to-office experience.
Contact a Safety Assurance Advisor with questions or concerns about employee safety.
About the author
Ryan Quinn is a property safety and real estate attorney at Assurance. His 10 years of experience in the safety field includes: fire safety, life, health building assessments, and property assessments. He has experience in all types of properties such as commercial, multi-residential, hotels, churches, schools, and more. Ryan appears to be a resource for helping clients assess risk, analyze and review losses to find true root causes that can help guide the path to growth and organizational change. Ryan earned his Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University and is currently a Certified Safety Professional (CSP).