How the surge in COVID-19 cases is impacting the return to work here in Kentucky

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Posted at 6:52 PM, Jul 26, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant has companies rethinking their return to the office.

Apple made headlines when they cited the uncertainty and the breakthrough cases as factors in their decision to delay the company's return to work date.

Locally, LEX 18 hasn't found any companies that decided to go back on plans to return. However, BaseHere Director of Operations Meredith Moore says companies are discussing the impact of a resurgence.

"I had heard a lot of things where they're not necessarily pulling back any of the restrictions that they had, but they are, you know, maybe pausing on whatever that next phase might have been. So there's, it's looser than it was, but it might not be back to normal," said Moore.

BaseHere is a coworking company in Lexington with three different locations. They have private, shared, and event space.

Moore says more people have returned over the past few months.

"I think everybody had this like, you know, there was tired of being stuck inside and weather's good and all these kinds of things. So, folks were ready to get out of the house. So we saw an increase in numbers, which we're excited to see. And then from a programming perspective, we've had a lot more attendance," said Moore.

Like many companies, they were hopeful going into summer, that plans wouldn't have to change.

"We kind of see everything from, you know, being overly cautious because their teams are bigger versus the smaller companies, or freelancers or solopreneurs that kind of day to day make their discretion," said Moore.

She's noticed the size of the company matters when making these decisions.

"If you're a one-to-three-person team, it's much easier to change and, you know, have that communication go out. You can make a team decision, versus, you know, remote headquarters for 1000s and 1000s of employees that you have to make these decisions and it takes longer to make these changes," Moore explained.

Work situations evolved and are now evolving all over again. While Apple decided to delay, Michael Prather, Keller Williams Bluegrass Operating Principal with the Prather Team, is sticking with their current model. It was put in place in November.

"We've got people that will come in and, you know, use a computer. The staff is very much set up to use the technology that we're rolling out services that our agents can call and literally just drive up on the side of the street and staff will run out and grab a commission check hand off an earnest money check to send them off to a closing grab document. So, you know, we're very geared to serve the agent at a super high level to help them run their business as they see fit," said Prather.

Some workers are in the office full-time, some part-time, and some decided to stay home.

"I think this is going to be our new norm," said Prather. "It developed into hybrid because of you know, having to very quickly pivot, and, you know, figure out how to get accomplished, exactly what we needed to."

Many of the workers were in office throughout the past year, so they've adjusted to the change.

"I hate to say a slow adaptation to what I think is going to be our new norm, but people were forced to work from home, so I think people got very, you know, comfortable and proficient if they didn't have a say, you know, a printer, scanner. So, whatever they needed to do business from home, they now have in place, and you know we're all, you know, self-starters we're all independent contractors and so if somebody can stay home and be just as proficient, and not necessarily need to come into the office, per se to get their work done," said Prather.

For now, locally at least, the main impact of the surging cases is managers remaining cautious.