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Back to the office: tough call for workers and boss

“It was brutal – I had so many sleepless nights,” he says. “Was I doing the right thing or the wrong thing?” It was a big internal battle. Ultimately, he decided to start urging workers to come back in June, while allowing people with extenuating circumstances like health issues or a sick relative to stay home.

“We didn’t have to exert undue pressure, but I didn’t want to be able to have people work from home for a year and a half,” Foreman said. “It wouldn’t be fair to people working in the office. And I cannot run the business through the individual fears and apprehensions of each employee.

Steve Cantrell, Creative Services Director at Basic Fun, wasn’t ready to return. His daughter has type 1 diabetes and Mr Cantrell and his wife were worried about catching the coronavirus from a colleague and exposing his daughter to it. Mr. Cantrell was able to postpone his return for five weeks.

“They bent over for me, and I leaned over for them and finally came back,” Cantrell said. “It was worse to stay home and think about it. If we are wearing masks and don’t get within three feet of each other, we are safe. I didn’t want to come back, but it’s good to get back to routine and normality.

Some employees were eager to return and felt reassured by the measures taken by the company to protect them, such as barriers for cabins and rules requiring masks.

“If they hadn’t made it safe, I certainly wouldn’t have come back to the office,” said Karen Sullivan, Sales Coordinator at Basic Fun. “But I live in a small two bedroom apartment and it just wasn’t comfortable working from home. I was working on a chart table.

Like many workers, she missed face-to-face contact with her colleagues, despite the risks. “I needed more interaction in the office,” Ms. Sullivan said. “Not everyone felt this way.”

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