What employers can learn from the NBA about returning to work amid COVID-19

The response of employers to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a mixed bag. Some have been successful in balancing employee productivity and health and safety through creative work arrangements, rules and regulations. Others, not so much.

As the economy reopens, employers face new challenges navigating health and productivity pitfalls when bringing workers back to physical premises. Research conducted at the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health shows it can be complex when large organizations co-ordinate the return to work of employees (albeit the research pertained to the situation following an injury or illness, not in the context of a pandemic lockdown). Through the lens of this research, return-to-work success is shaped by both worker behaviour and workplace responses.

The National Basketball Association’s experiences returning to the hard court last season was a well-publicized achievement. That’s because estimates from the Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 Risk Tool, led by scientists at Public Health Ontario, have shown that the working conditions of athletes, referees and coaches can place them at a greater risk of COVID-19 infection.


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