The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred many changes in how people work across organizations
and industries. Some of these changes (e.g., limited social gatherings, mandatory face
coverings) are likely to be temporary. Others, however, are likely to remain in some capacity for
the foreseeable future. The National Safety Council (NSC) launched the SAFER: Safe Actions for
Employee Returns effort to give employers tools and resources to ensure their workplaces are
safe for employees, contractors and the public. In addition to providing guidance, NSC wanted
to understand how the pandemic is fundamentally changing the way businesses operate and
communicate with their workforces and where those changes might lead.

In late summer/early fall 2020, NSC conducted over 30 structured, in-depth interviews with
experts in safety, medical health and public health fields. Interviewees were asked for their
perspective on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on operations, human resources, mental
health, communications, organizational culture, technology and sustainability – as well as key
lessons learned and future challenges.

Across a range of industries, respondents highlighted the following as the most impactful
changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
–  Operations
Moved to remote work arrangements for as many employees as possible

– Human Resources
Provided flexible work arrangements (e.g., hours, days, scheduling)

– Stress, Mental Health and Wellbeing
Promoted or increased EAP benefit offerings

– Communications
Provided regular communication via multiple channels

– Organizational Culture
Increased focus on safety and health using COVID-19 as a catalyst

– Technology
Increased use of mobile app software

– Sustainability
Rethought need for physical space and travel

Among the key lessons learned: Organizations are more agile than previously believed and are
able to adapt to challenges, and many have been able to use their pandemic response as an
opportunity to break down silos within their organization. Moving forward, organizations need to
continue to improve on efficiencies related to training and operations in a remote work
environment and be better prepared for infectious disease risks.

To download the full 16 page report created by the NSC, visit: