Three-Point-Five Actionable Business Ideas during Covid Reintegration

by Bryan R. Fine, MD, MPH

As May showers arrive, the uninvited guest ‘Covid’ we’ve all grown to (insert expletive + feeling here) will turn 14 months old here in the United States. Finally, we’re seeing that maybe, just maybe, this vaccination ‘thing’ is going to work.

More than 100 million people reportedly are fully vaccinated (including me). There are pockets of social and corporate rebirth, on full display in many cities on downtown streets on a Friday night.

There are pockets, also, of spread, sickness and hospitalization(s). Vaccine hesitancy persists in many areas. Stories of death are still hitting streaming services on your phone—perhaps more or less emphasized depending on site(s) you follow.

So what’s a little ‘ol business to do to prepare for the Summer of 2021?

Here are some ideas.

Idea 1: Making Reintegration a “Thing”

As a business, the process of reintegration will include asking employees questions and having a sit-down, documented brainstorm with business leaders—specifically with an eye on the end goal.

But first, consider making the process a ‘thing.’

Tell employees the process is happening. Identify a person within your organization to lead this effort, maybe someone different than who has been the ‘face’ of your pandemic response the past year. Blow up a couple balloons.

Let people know that maybe, the return-to-normal is near.

Idea 2: Talk to Employees Some More

One of the many things the Covid pandemic has demonstrated is that every single person—and every single business—has a nuanced, different take on how to not only live their own lives amidst the pandemic but also how other people should live theirs.

This uniqueness is kind of like…snowflakes.

Solicit feedback. Open doors. Hear stories. Anonymously or otherwise. And do this specifically in context of reintegration efforts.

Idea 3: Consider Two Extremes from Different Perches

What would happen if you…went mostly-remote indefinitely?

Or, conversely, if you mandated that everyone return onsite tomorrow?

Answer each extreme from both a human and a strictly-corporate perspective:

  • How would employees react, based on your conversations with them? Would they consider the decision as fair? Unsafe?
  • How would your business be affected? Would it affect your vendor relationships? Would there a PR hit (or boon)?

The purpose of this exercise is not to have a eureka moment but rather to juxtapose what may be competing interests—EmployEE v. EmployER—and carve out exceptions.

Combining the thoughts of a diverse group of employees and / or business partners into a collective ‘they’—absurd at face value—is a force function to expanding the discussion.

Idea Point-5: Everything Else

There are many other issues that you’ll need to take into consideration, obviously, many of which are personal to your organization, be it an emphasis on vaccination rates or how third-party regulations may create unpredictable mandates.

But the first three ideas are generalizable to supplement whatever efforts and initiatives you currently have in-place and to prepare for the obstacles—known and unknown—that lay ahead.

Bryan R. Fine, MD is drawing on 20-plus years as a doctor, Covid testing more than 1,000 employees onsite and in the driveway of his family home the past six months, and his executive-level engagement with business leaders for many years, including specifically helping them acclimate as Covid hit in March 2020 and continually pivot as the pandemic persisted.