How to Mitigate Sick-Day Risk With Occupancy Data

Sick Day

As pandemic-era closures and occupancy restrictions come to a close, plenty of managers and business owners are finally able to consider a formal return to work plan for their offices. But, while the threat of Covid-19 may finally be starting to subside for most of the population, preventing any type of communicable infection in the workplace will likely remain a priority for the foreseeable future.

When employees become sick, it’s natural and encouraged for them to take sick days to recuperate and prevent increased staff sickness. However, excessive sick days can negatively impact productivity and office morale. With lessons learned from the pandemic, promoting employee health, and mitigating excessive sick days can be achieved with smart office planning based on occupancy data collected from the workplace.

How The Pandemic Changed Paid Sick Leave

According to the Bureau of Labor Management National Compensation Survey, in March of 2020, at least 75% of American workers had access to some form of paid sick leave, with that number rising in organizations with greater numbers of employees. The average number of days of paid sick leave allowed was seven, with only 3% of workers allowed to take sick days as needed, or, without a maximum number of days.

During the pandemic, 25% of all American companies updated their sick leave policy, with that number rising to 45% in companies with over 100 people. Of these establishments, 34% added 1 to 5 paid leave days to their plans, 20% added 6 to 10 days, and 37% added more than 10 days. (The remaining 8 percent had an unknown number of days added.) However, most of the companies surveyed indicated that the changes would be temporary. While the number varied amongst industries, almost all the surveyed fields saw an increase in the average sick days taken per year by employees.

When Should An Employee Take A Sick Day?

While there are no federally regulated legal requirements for when an employee should take a sick day, the pandemic and subsequent focus on maintaining public health have provided some good guidelines. Employees should communicate with their managers through proper channels as soon as they notice any symptoms. During this time, managers and employees can establish the extent to which the employee will be unable to perform their role whether totally—when an employee will not be able to communicate or check-in at all—or partially, wherein the employee may still be inclined to answer brief messages or emails from outside the office. Managers can then better distribute the sick employee’s workload amongst other staff, or plan for any make-up work upon the employees return.

One of the greatest concerns amongst management is the abuse of paid sick leave, wherein an employee is dishonest about the extent of their illness or capabilities and treats their paid sick leave like vacation time. This practice can harm both productivity and office morale over time. Managers should remain watchful for patterns that indicate abuse like frequent or sudden requests for sick leave, talk to the employee about any additional assistance they may need, and keep a record of exactly how long and how frequently the requests are made.

How To Mitigate Sick Days With Occupancy Data

As companies make the switch to returning to offices either partially or full-time, there are new tools at managers’ disposal to mitigate the necessity of sick leave with smart office planning to promote company health. Smart seating strategies, rotating schedules, and sophisticated sanitation strategies can be achieved with the help of occupancy data provided by CoWorkr’s office space sensors.

Smart occupancy sensors like CoWorkr’s WorkPoint Sensor or WorkSpace Counter can easily be installed in offices or workplaces and can gather data on either single occupancy areas (like a desk or cubicle) or accurately count how many people are using a conference room or meeting space. The data collected is completely anonymous thanks to CoWorkr’s combination of RFID technology and AI-enhanced algorithms, and can accurately display which areas of your office are in use in real time—all via the CoWorkr app.

This occupancy data can be used to promote social distancing during times of increased infection risk (like flu season) with smart seating charts. Establishing the actual occupancy capabilities of the workplace through anonymous sensor monitoring can also help managers create hybrid schedules, preventing large populations of employees from interacting at once, and lessening the chance of a communicable illness affecting productivity. Occupancy sensors can also be used to draw “heat maps” of the most heavily occupied spaces around the office, making them potential targets for specialized cleaning and infection control protocols.

Using effective, data-backed management techniques with the help of CoWorkr’s family of products can keep your employees healthy and your business running smoothly in the post-pandemic world.