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Nervous about returning to the office? Talk to your manager or HR, experts say

Many concerns about returning to the office can be alleviated with clear and considerate communication, experts said.

During a Newsday Live discussion Wednesday, Christine Ippolito, founder and CEO of the human resources consulting firm Compass Workforce Solutions, and Tamika Hardy, a partner at the law firm Rivkin Radler, urged Long Islanders to talk to their managers about concerns they may have from mandatory vaccines to wearing masks to employee rights.

The session was moderated by Newsday economics writer James T. Madore.

Hardy said workers can request that their employers mandate vaccines, but few will. Companies fear such a requirement will harm people with disabilities and certain religious beliefs, and politicize the environment.

Employees should instead talk through their concerns with human resource staff or their supervisors, Hardy said. She noted that firms may track who is vaccinated so they can create safe design and policy plans.

“It’s about giving the employer as much information as possible to maintain a healthy and safe work environment,” Hardy said. “Your employer has your best interest at heart … not only because it’s required by federal, state and local laws, but because they want a healthy work population.”

Ippolito also said Long Islanders risk offending, harassing or discriminating against colleagues if they immediately inquire about their vaccination status. People concerned about their co-workers’ decisions should broach the topic with their supervisor or human resource department, she said.

If workers are struggling with the idea of returning to the office full-time, Ippolito suggested they ask their supervisors about trying a hybrid schedule for a 30-day period.

“No one wants to commit to something that’s unlimited,” Ippolito said, noting that companies may be more open to hybrid work if employees take a slight pay cut since they are saving on commuting expenses. “Employers are concerned about people being productive, about them being connected to the office and the culture and the work environment and being engaged. So have a plan about how you’re going to keep your productivity.”

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