Executive Summary

Life and work routines have been affected by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, which has also led to historical changes around the globe. This systematic research examined how Bank of America, Yahoo, and IBM managed return to work (RTW) after the virus spread. The COVID-19 pandemic caused new business practices that need enterprises to adapt how they conduct their operations and the function of offices in fostering stable, prosperous, and fulfilling careers (Boland et al.). However, COVID-19 presented unexpected difficulties. Many businesses worldwide showed they could handle them by using the crisis management plans they had already created and by establishing new working conditions to safeguard employees in an emergency (Gartner_Inc). The COVID-19 pandemic compelled Bank of America, Yahoo, and IBM to make several essential modifications to maintain the companies’ ongoing operations. With its impact on the entire company’s performance, job performance is crucial to determining such continuation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s detrimental effects on employees, including their stress or lack of security, shaping and maintaining job performance during this period was difficult for Bank of America, Yahoo, and IBM.

The importance of human resource professionals in applying techniques that effectively change attitudes toward the workplace and improve job performance during these trying times is rising. As a result, this study aims to clarify how COVID-19-oriented techniques affect job performance by examining issues with communication, work motivation, and organizational commitment during a crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This study suggests short- and long-term actions that might be implemented to safeguard the future prosperity of IBM, Bank of America, and Yahoo. However, the COVID-19 pandemic’s abrupt changes have greatly influenced people’s physical and emotional health, which should be addressed in the short term. As new technology and automation usually signify changes in how activities are viewed and carried out, long-term measures should address the work re-design plan. Bank of America, Yahoo, and IBM will be able to take advantage of COVID-19’s positive effects on impact reduction by using this approach while also attempting to improve inter-departmental interactions through motivation and communication.


Globally, normal social life, such as the workplace, has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus propagated by producing waves that were not synchronized around the globe due to the dispersion of different variations (Wei et al.). With the aid of limitations and the forced shutdown of work activities, legislators in numerous nations swiftly established a wide range of rules to combat and control the viral spread. The lockdown was unquestionably the first aggressive containment measure. This action considerably impacted the economy but negatively impacted physical and mental health and COVID-19 mortality compared to the pre-vaccination period (Alwan et al.). Italy also used the lockdown as its initial containment, followed by introducing less severe measures to control the impact on the nation’s economy and public and occupational health (Marziano et al.). Due to the variations between healthcare and non-healthcare contexts, several operational norms and regional recommendations aimed at firms were produced. Many steps were taken by businesses to protect employees as much as possible and also aid in preventing clusters from spreading inside production zones. Returning to work is a significant management problem for both previously infected and healthy individuals (Garzillo et al.).

Occupational physicians are essential in this pandemic for keeping an eye on the workforce’s health, working to stop pandemic clusters from spreading to workplaces and creating useful recommendations for RTW (Garzillo et al.). Every worker’s quality of life is impacted by RTW, particularly during the initial stages of a pandemic when further preventative measures like vaccinations were not yet accessible. Taking care of employees’ health and recognizing their stress is important. Exposure to COVID-19 at work has increased the workload for workers returning from leave and has been linked to long-term sadness, anxiety, and fatigue (Garzillo et al.). Bank of America, Yahoo, and IBM recently quit their telework programs. Each stated that they hoped to enhance communication, cooperation, and teamwork by bringing staff back into the workplace. Hundreds of effective telecommuting operations demonstrate that efficiency and collaboration are achievable and, in most cases, even preferable in telecommuting contexts, despite the frequent justifications of increased productivity and simpler cooperation (Boland et al.). To summarize the approaches for returning to work during this crucial pandemic, this research will systematically review the most recent research.

Summary of Management Topic

There is still a lot that is unknown about how the workplace will function and seem as people move past this pandemic. People are confident of one thing: they are not going back to their normal routines. Work will be done in various ways by everyone. This essay will concentrate on firms like Bank of America, IBM, and Yahoo that have claimed that returning to in-person work enhances cooperation, teamwork, and communication (Wright). This drastic return to office environments is unquestionably a huge move. 95% of IBM’s worldwide workforce now works remotely from 175 countries. This research gathered top ideas from the IBM organization to establish a data-driven, evidence-based collection of Global Return to Workplace Advice to find the optimal approach for resettling workers into IBM or client offices. This approach puts forth principles to assist IBM and its clients (Friedman). The guideline is organized into three “waves” according to criteria: local government policies and regulations, employee responsibilities, the accessibility of testing and tracking, employee emotion, and more. Once staff returns to the workplace, various new workplace standards can be implemented to guarantee the safety and health of staff partners, clients, and their families. Redesigned workplace layouts, traffic patterns, and collaboration strategies are part of this (Friedman).

Offering greater freedom than in the past while also attempting to regulate that flexibility is what Bank of America must do to make a comeback (Doherty). For formalized flexibility, the bank unveiled a new strategy. That would be a hard-fought success for companies if they could return more workers. Employees were required to go to work five days a week after Bank of America announced that it was completely returning to the office. Returning to the office would allow them to create a more collaborative environment, which is impossible with remote work. Several businesses began developing their future work strategies in San Francisco. One of the big organizations to start bringing staff back to the office was Bank of America (Doherty). When Marissa Mayer, the previous CEO of Yahoo, declared a prohibition on telecommuting in 2013, the response was harsh and quick. Many mocked the corporation on social media and online news stories, unwilling to accept the justification for abandoning a once-heralded pioneering venture. Several others noted that decreased sales could be a major factor in why Yahoo, Bank of America, and IBM called staff members back to work (Spector). When businesses decide to stop their telecommuting policies, it represents an effort to address a much bigger issue (Spector). It occurs in businesses with issues with market performance or declining revenues, where there are currently layoffs, or if there is a significant concern with managerial procedures.


Leaders’ Engagement with Employees During a Return to Work

Organizations worldwide were thrown into such a situation of uncertainty when the COVID-19 pandemic initially broke out that many struggled to predict if they would survive the crisis intact. But the path ahead is still challenging, and leaders are now focusing on how to return rather than if they can. Managing waves of unanticipated crises, such as the current demonstrations in the US and internationally, is another challenge facing leaders today (Honigmann et al.). As much as extreme, quick changes in the workplace, these occurrences might hurt employees’ productivity and mental health. Workers will have to deal with phases of instability and adaptation driven by new company priorities such as reorganizations, more labor cutbacks, layoffs, and health concerns associated with the pandemic (Honigmann et al.). This pandemic reintegration and recovery period gives executives a definite cause to engage and deepen general ties with employees.

Understanding and resolving the underlying human emotions of sorrow, loss, and stress in the workplace can restore organizational effectiveness and productivity and retain employees. It represents a historic chance to remove the stigma of emotional and mental wellness as taboo issues for workplace dialogue, particularly the emotions of loneliness and humiliation associated with job loss and other employment tragedies (Honigmann et al.). For example, Yahoo, Bank of America, and IBM have proved their consistency and strengthened their reputations by promising to assist their workforces and then deliver on that commitment. When the focus moves from public health to the details of each organization’s recovery, now is the moment to continue to preserve and expand on that trust. Clear and motivating communication is critical to the success of this next turbulent period. Leaders must help worried workers believe in the future while acting decisively on strategic reforms. Many people have found their employees to be a source of relative stability amid a period of chronic uncertainty. During the desperate early days of the outbreak, employees have seen company executives as the most trustworthy source of information, mainly when official agencies have been less dependable in their reactions (Honigmann et al.).


A complex system of communication practices is what is referred to as an organization. The communication practices of its employees create the company as a whole; the organization itself is just a structure (Zito et al.). It is viewed in this way since the staff members talk to one another about the company, their jobs, and the objectives they are working toward (Zito et al.). Depending on the kind of messages employees deliver, communication within a company may take many forms. Communication can handle vertical and horizontal formats, resulting in formal or informal communication (Bieńkowska et al.). Communication can also be classified based on the task it is intended to accomplish, including directive communication, which aims to persuade the recipient, and supportive communication, which aims to provide pertinent and convincing information, cultural communication, which aims to provide the organization’s internal rules, and democratic communication, which involves workers in decision-making processes (Bieńkowska et al.).

Communication is essential to managing human resources since it keeps employees motivated, involved, and dedicated to the company (Syed et al.). Appropriate communication will affect employees’ emotional dedication to managerial change, boost their trust in the company, and stimulate their loyalty, especially during the rapid changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic (Syed et al.). According to researchers, informal communication might lessen workers’ reluctance to learn new skills and assume new responsibilities due to COVID-19 restructuring (Syed et al.). Additionally, keeping staff members informed about crucial components of the pandemic or the organization’s future enables them to participate in the organization’s ongoing development. It lowers anxieties, uncertainty, and other unfavorable emotions that may interfere with their sentiments of job satisfaction or performance (Syed et al.). When decision-makers integrate their decision-making and communication messages with a sense of purpose, they may help promote the potential of their workers at a time when leadership is most needed (Reisinger and Fetterer). Many leaders need to see how allowing employees to make decisions may reinforce their sense of worth and belonging, improving motivation, productivity, and well-being. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, employees desire flexibility in the places and hours they work, and they will only accept it provided they have a say in how it will be used (Reisinger and Fetterer). Rather than only enacting policies, leaders may promote autonomy by defining principles.

Workplace Factors

The ongoing COVID-19 issue has had a historically significant impact on workplaces all across the world. The severity of viral infection, sickness, and mortality has forced the transformation or closure of numerous enterprises, leaving many employees on temporary layoff or without a job (Shaw et al.). Elderly or medically fragile people are most at risk from the virus and its effects. Still, physical separation, stay-at-home instructions, and isolation have had severe adverse social, economic, and health effects on employees of all ages, including a disproportionately negative impact on those who are less advantaged. Yahoo, Bank of America, IBM, and other places of employment have reopened; however, they are doing so with unusual restrictions on physical proximity, personal protection equipment, and physical security. People have yet to learn how effective these measures will be in the workplace, and there is still a lot that people need to know about how individuals communicate and adjust in these situations (Shaw et al.). The peculiar nature of health and work, employee disease exposure, sensitivity to environmental challenges, a requirement for job flexibility and adjustment, discrepancies in workstyle, social status, and organizational support are some of the difficulties associated with welcoming employees back to the workplace (Ryan and Schofield). These difficulties are also reflected in some of the challenges people recognize as prevalent in the studies on return to work and employment restoration. The variation of return-to-work effects for employees with various diseases, accidents, and medical procedures is a recurrent subject in the literature on work impairment (Ryan and Schofield).

This diversity among medical disorders has been related to the workplace, psychological, social, demographic, and health factors (Shaw et al.). This combination of considerations may also need to be considered throughout the COVID-19 return to work procedure. Due to the COVID-19 dilemma, Yahoo, Bank of America, and IBM are now more obligated than ever to give their employees the freedom and flexibility they need to continue working effectively from home, change their work habits, or operate in a setting that is undergoing rapid change. People know that workers’ needs for job adaptation following traumas vary widely based on research on workplace restoration. Similarly, workers will require various employment modifications due to COVID-19. Managers will be valuable resources for communication and problem-solving with specific employees. The authors discussed the crucial role that immediate supervisors play in successfully implementing proactive company policies and practices regarding workplace health and returning to work (Etuknwa et al.).


Short-term Solution

People’s physical and mental health is greatly impacted by the drastic changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement to satisfy social isolation obligations, and the financial uncertainties brought on by the government’s subsequent closure of more and more sectors (Wang et al.). According to a study done in China throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, which confirmed increased rates of stress and despair among individuals, all challenging social circumstances severely directly affect physical and mental well-being (Wang et al.). From an organizational standpoint, employee stress, anxiety, or depression, even if unrelated to their daily job, has a detrimental impact on their engagement and willingness to work, which reduces their productivity (Wang et al.). Employers should pay close attention to employee well-being as they prepare staff for the challenging period of pandemics. The capacity to attain objectives, contentment, and life satisfaction, are all components of well-being. Stable well-being generally refers to a person’s capacity to handle certain psychological, social, and physical obstacles (Wang et al.). 

The COVID-19 epidemic has substantially disrupted the psychological stability of employees, limiting them from at least perceiving the need for social interchange, which, if reduced, would impact the feeling of isolation at work and lead to stress (Wang et al.). Free, unlimited access to technology, fellow employees, and more open contact with employees—imitating face-to-face communication—are issues that employers need to address. There will need flexibility and customization to promote safe workplace openings, which will differ significantly by industry and profession. While infection control techniques are more practical in specific settings than others, those needing close physical contact with people will have a higher risk of infection. Reasonable return-to-work initiatives are context-specific, according to the workplace restoration study (Larochelle). It is obvious that as businesses reopen during the pandemic, a similarly customized approach will be needed. Some employees could take prolonged leaves of absence or work exclusively from home. It is feasible that employees will look for alternative employment opportunities or apply for sickness or unemployment benefits in some companies that provide unacceptable hazards.

Long-term Solution

Work design is crucial to human resource procedures because it considers the structural and social factors and how the workplace affects the employees (Foss). Once a job design is created, it must be thoroughly examined and updated since various variables, including management style, working circumstances, organizational technology, and environmental dynamics, affect how the job will seem (Foss). As a result of COVID-19, employees will significantly rely on their immediate supervisors to understand the rules and procedures of business owners and organizations. Managers will be required to handle various consequences, not just from the virus but also from the effect of physical distance, in offering assistance and direction (Larochelle). This is especially true if they have to oversee and implement new working conditions. Additionally, to what degree employees would have the autonomy to balance virus-related dangers with the necessity of reporting to work has yet to be discovered (Larochelle). 

Companies worldwide have seen some modifications in job design due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Caponecchia and Mayland). Human resource managers must ensure the organization’s workers and operations align with the developments. To provide long-term advantages in improving work redesign, they should also assist employees in adjusting to these changes (Caponecchia and Mayland). To minimize business downtime during COVID-19, many businesses were forced to operate under new conditions: utilizing new technologies in wholly new spaces—often from home or in a hybrid option, with limited social and physical connection and significantly less supervision and assistance from other employees (Caponecchia and Mayland). Workplace changes are more than merely adjusting to new technology or automation; they frequently represent changes in how activities are perceived and executed, such as treating patients online or giving customer service (Foss). Due to this, job redesigning is essential to an organization’s operation. The ongoing pandemic suggests that the adjustments made will last long or even stay in the organization after the outbreak. Hence, to safeguard employees’ health going forward, human resource professionals should proactively evaluate job design, risk assessment, rules, guidelines, and procedures (Caponecchia and Mayland).


Employers worldwide are experimenting with getting workers back to the office, but the leadership needs to take action immediately to ensure the workplaces are safe and effective. Yahoo, Bank of America, and IBM need to seize this opportunity to break free from the complacency of the past by getting rid of outdated practices and procedures. A well-thought-out return to the office plan may take advantage of this opportunity to rethink their position, provide personnel with a better experience, boost cooperation and productivity, and cut expenses. Transformational thinking based on facts will be necessary to achieve that change. The ultimate goal of this transformation will be to create a secure atmosphere where employees can enjoy their job, cooperate, and accomplish the goals of their organizations—something that excellent businesses have always desired.

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