April 13, 2021— With the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines, and more data validating their efficacy in real-world scenarios, more companies are looking to bring employees back in person. Although this welcomed news provides an encouraging outlook for those who want to return to the office, companies still will need to ensure they are providing a safe work environment for their people.

More states are extending vaccine availability to residents 16 years of age or older, including New York on April 6th and California on April 15th, providing a significant percentage of the population the option to be vaccinated. Additionally, the CDC recently published the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines’ effectiveness in real-world conditions, showing that among front-line and essential workers, the vaccines were 80% effective after the first dose and 90% effective after the second dose.

This news has provided optimism for companies wanting to reopen their offices with some of the largest tech firms establishing plans to reopen in the coming weeks. But with optimism surrounding vaccinations, companies still must address the complex requirements and nuanced situations for reopening their offices.

  • Should vaccinations be a mandatory or voluntary condition to return to the office?
  • How should companies manage employees who have been vaccinated compared to those who have not?
  • How do other vaccines, like Johnson & Johnson with 66% efficacy, impact employee confidence or company policy?

In our recent COVID-19 Vaccine Employer Policy Report, 63% of companies were uncertain how they would track employee vaccination records.

The COVID-19 environment is complicated and changes by the day, and while your workforce has a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, you will need to maintain all of the controls that have helped to keep people safe over the past year. For example, in California, Cal-OSHA explicitly has stated that certain COVID-19 emergency standards applicable to employers remain in effect for vaccinated persons until further notice, and the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services is requiring that employees who have been vaccinated must continue to follow COVID preventative guidelines. As a result, companies need a comprehensive yet flexible tool to manage a return to the office even as more employees become vaccinated.

Leveraging our twenty-year consulting experience, the Sequoia Return to Work Center is built on a framework that guides companies through the broad set of actions they should consider:

  • Creating dynamic policies to define the return
  • Providing access to testing and care to support employee health
  • Managing the return through cohorts, reservations, and screenings
  • Communicating with employees as processes and policies change
  • Tracking organizational compliance and employee safety

With the recent addition of vaccination tracking and management, companies using the Return to Work Center will be able to leverage the full suite of functionality to:

  1. Define and implement a vaccination policy for employees to acknowledge
  2. Collect vaccine verification from employees in a HIPAA-compliant way
  3. Tailor screening questions for employees based on their vaccination status
  4. Measure the vaccination rate of their employee population

As companies begin to think about their return to the office, it’s important to approach the ever-changing environment of COVID-19 with a confident and adaptable strategy. We will continue to partner closely with our community of people-driven companies to share best practices, innovative solutions, and thoughtful guidance.

Learn more about the Sequoia Return to Work Center at sequoia.com/rtw.

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2021 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Jonathan Moore -Jonathan is the Director of Product Marketing for Sequoia. He explores the complex challenges facing companies today through research to inform Sequoia’s platform approach and go-to-market strategy. He has spent his career within the Healthcare and HR Technology industries. In his free time, Jonathan enjoys good coffee, Danish design, and photography.