How Can Companies Respond to the Omicron Variant?

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5 Ways To Handle Omicron Surge

The Corona pandemic has dramatically transformed the way we live and work. It compelled companies across the globe to work from home and embrace several technologies along the way. Now, when we thought that the virus was petering out and losing its strength, a heavily-mutated variant has come as a big shock. Yes, we are talking about the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Like coronavirus, Omicron is also expected to have severe implications for people, businesses, and the broader economy.


What is the new variant and how risky is it? 

According to Tulio de Oliveria- a researcher in South Africa, the new variant B.1.1.529 has a unique constellation of mutations that can help it evade the immune response and make it more contagious.

The Omicron variant allegedly has 32 mutations in the spike protein, which is acutely the high number of mutations. For the unintended, the mutations in the spike protein can make it difficult for one’s immune system to attack the virus.

The WHO has cautioned that the new variant poses an “extremely high” global risk due to its transmission speed and the higher risk of reinfections.


How can the Omicron Variant affect people and work? 

COVID-19 surfaced two years ago. With more than 260 million people infected worldwide and 5.2 million people killed, it caused havoc in livelihoods. It is no news that thousands of organizations were forced to shut down, supply chains were disrupted and millions lost their jobs. 

As we mentioned earlier, the Omicron variant came just when we thought we were towards the endgame of the Corona pandemic. Companies across the world were slowly returning back to normal and mandating hybrid workplaces lately. However, if this new variant spreads fast, a return to normalcy can become even more challenging. 

In simpler words, more cases of Omicron mean more lockdowns, more losses, more layoffs, more mental health at work, and much more. 


Which sectors are most at threat if the Omicron variant goes viral?

Although every business will have to face challenges, contact-intensive industries like travel, tourism, and hospitality are most likely to be affected by this variant. If Omicron becomes dominant, it will automatically lead to new restrictions that can be unfavorable for these businesses. 

Take a look at losses that happened to the following businesses after the news of Omicron went viral: 

  • Shares of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, which operates India’s largest airline IndiGo, sank about 9 percent
  • SpiceJet, a budget carrier, tanked 7 percent 
  • Shares of Tata Group company Indian Hotels dropped 11 percent lower 

After coronavirus outbreak, these industries were badly affected but were slowly getting back to track with vaccine rollout.

If Omicron is not controlled on time, it can pose unprecedented threats to several already-damaged businesses.


What are the effective measures to respond to this variant? 

Of late, employers were worried and searching for effective ways to tackle return-to-work anxiety among employees. If you are also one of them, it is time for you to shift your focus as the need of the hour is preparing your employees for the new Covid-19 variant. 

Take a look at some measures you can take to keep your employees safe from the Omicron variant while meeting your business needs: 


Encourage Vaccination

The new variant needs a combined response from the government, citizens, and the corporate world. Now, it is the duty of employers to encourage their employees to COVID vaccinations. There are several ways to do it including: 

  • Spreading awareness using training and posters 
  • Arranging medical camps 
  • Allowing paid leaves (if any immediate side-effects happen) 
  • Offering medical insurance for future side effects 
  • Reducing the cost of vaccines for employees and their family members  
  • Providing gifts/vouchers/coupons after the vaccination 
  • Refusing official travel 
  • And much more… 


Implement Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid way of work is no longer a new concept. Businesses have been already embracing this model lately. Now, this is the right time to make the most out of it. It is one of the best ways to restrict any possible Omicron spread in workplaces. Not to forget, employees with a medical history or condition should certainly be allowed to work from home. 

In order to maintain employee engagement and productivity, the hybrid workplace needs to be transparent. Employers should ensure that every employee feels seen. Additionally, companies can also use technologies to lower retention and improve recruitment in hybrid workplaces. 


Prioritize Social Distancing

A hybrid workplace will automatically promote social distancing. However, employers must take several other measures to increase social distancing among employees such as: 

  • The capacity of conference rooms should be reduced to four or five people 
  • The capacity of the cafeteria should also be decreased 
  • Water cooler talks should be completely prohibited 
  • Use necessary online communication tools for important discussions 
  • And much more… 


Make Masks Compulsory

Every individual thoroughly knows the importance and use of masks. It is one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of this new variant. 

All that said, have a look at some shocking revelations about masks: 

  • According to a recent survey, working individuals should wear indoor masks regardless of their vaccination status.  
  • Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended using masks when indoors with others, whether vaccinated or not if community transmission is high or substantial. 
  • Some companies in India restrict unvaccinated employees to enter some areas where masks can’t be worn like cafeterias, gyms, etc. 


Consider Mental Health of Employees 

The news of Omicron can spur anxiety of social isolation, job loss, and falling sick among employees. This is when employers should take a step ahead and help their employees to reduce stress. It is not just enough to make the workplace safer but also to develop mental health initiatives.

A little empathy in leadership can go a long way. So, no stone should be left unturned to support employees in this difficult time. Taking employees’ mental health seriously today will give evident benefits tomorrow for all to see. 


Conclusion 

We hope this blog helped you understand everything about the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Now that you have a clear idea of responding to this variant, start preparing your workforce for the same. Also, do not forget to use your learnings and best practices of COVID days. 

Remember, we have overcome a global pandemic, together we shall fight this as well. So, keep calm and stay safe.

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Mili Joseph

Mili Joseph is a Content Writer at HROne. She completed her graduation in journalism and mass communication. Besides writing, she loves reading books and listening to music.

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