Organisations forming or revising in-person workplace policies face difficulties in accounting for disparate attitudes to vaccination requirements.

A Gartner survey found that public attitudes to vaccine checks for entry vary depending on the setting.

“Legal and compliance leaders for most organisations we speak to aren’t planning to mandate vaccines in their workplace,” says Chris Audet, senior director: research in the Gartner legal and compliance practice. This data suggests that public opinion on the issue varies significantly according to the setting.”

Respondents to the survey of US consumers were more likely to approve of vaccine checks for entry in a healthcare setting (58%) than in an office (35%), yet a significant minority (25%) did not feel they should be required in any of the settings listed in the survey.

Gartner analysts add that the sample was broad, and many respondents did not work in the types of workplaces listed in the survey, therefore feelings on the issue might be different in individual workplaces.

“Vaccination requirement is clearly a divisive issue and mandating them could be problematic for companies for a variety of reasons including privacy concerns, staff resistance, and logistical issues,” says Audet.

Although most companies tell Gartner they do not intend to mandate vaccination for their employees, most did signal an intent to continue with some safety measures as workers return.

Based on conversations with various organisations, Gartner experts have listed five strategies for managing return to work programs.

* A/B Schedules – Organisations bring in employees on alternating weeks to reduce workplace crowding and better manage social distancing and hygiene measures. In some cases, this may also help to accommodate those who are prefer working remotely.

* Hot Desks and Hotelling – Moving away from traditional assigned seating, organisations are exploring shared work areas or reservation systems for desks or meeting spaces, which also helps to comply with enhanced cleaning and distancing requirements.

* Vaccine ‘Safe Floors’ – Some have considered the idea of reserved space with reduced safety measures that are only available for vaccinated employees. Tracking vaccination status poses legal challenges in many jurisdictions.

* Phased and Optional Return – Many employers are bringing back volunteers into the office first or approaching the return in phases. This helps to assess the efficacy of safety measures and how these new configurations affect employees and teamwork.

* Redesigning the Workplace – Some organisations are fundamentally redesigning the office around collaboration rather than individual work, making that the primary function of an office in a hybrid strategy, dedicating more floorspace to collaboration and less to single desks.