In late March, Forrester CEO George Colony outlined the four phases of COVID-19. We are currently at the beginning of Phase Three (Management) as regions and businesses reopen. This is a challenging transition for organizations. A global pandemic has no clear end. The path forward to a new and evolving normal will be different for different organizations. To help with your pandemic recovery plans, Forrester developed two sets of pandemic management protocols for bringing employees back.

Government guidelines along with health and safety risks are undoubtedly top of mind, but there’s more. You must also consider operational, privacy, and compliance risks in your pandemic recovery plans. For example:

  • Workplace discrimination based on age, gender, or health status. How are you making decisions about which essential employees return to the office? Many disabilities are silent. Age discrimination is real. Someone who appears physically able or healthy may have a compromised immune system. Well-intentioned actions can backfire if they are driven by cognitive biases.
  • Partner violations of a safe workplace environment. Do you know the state of your third-party employees’ workplace environment? Your partners and suppliers’ recovery plans will impact yours. Actions that circumvent local regulations, violate workers’ rights, or trigger secondary waves of infection will lead to further loss of productivity. It could also lead to legal action.
  • Violation of employees’ privacy rights with contact tracing solutions. How can you do this legally, effectively, and with employee experience in mind? Regardless of the approach — mobile app, wearable device, badge card, or manual approaches — contact tracing presents great privacy challenges and not only in Europe. The US Senate is currently debating two different privacy bills related to contact tracing.
  • Stimulus noncompliance. Does your organization fully understand what it’s agreeing to when it applies for government loans, grants, tax relief, or initiatives under a coronavirus-related stimulus package? Governments around the world have implemented such stimulus packages for businesses, such as the CARES Act in the US or the CJRS in the UK. These programs have very specific eligibility requirements and often dictate exactly how an organization can use the loans and grants if available.

In total, Forrester has identified 15 critical risks to mitigate for the return to work. We outline these risks in a detailed report and a webinar for clients to initiate discussions with their legal counsel, compliance officers, and business leaders to avoid costly and unnecessary mistakes.