COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — One of Columbus’ largest employers has begun bringing people back to their offices this week, but Nationwide is in no rush to bring all 13,000 people back at once.
“We’re excited to safely bring people back into the building, and the way we’re doing that is we’re only going to have half of our associates in the building at one time,” said Nationwide Associate Vice President of Corporate Communications Joe Case. “We’ll bring 50% in one week, and then 50% will come in the next week, and we’ll alternate across the summer months.”
Case said, however, the plans are “in pencil,” and they are working with the employees to try to maintain a flexible work model.
“Our associates really appreciate the flexibility,” added Case. “And now that we’re implementing [a flexible work model], our associates will have the flexibility based on business need to work at home or be in the office. And we’re looking forward to developing kind of what that new sense of normal looks like under these new parameters.”
During the height of the pandemic, downtown areas across the country became ghost towns, but at that time lawmakers passed a bill allowing cities to continue collecting income tax from people who went to work from home. That policy might not be in place much longer, along with foot traffic also being down, some cities worry about their local economies.
That’s a discussion Case says Nationwide has had with Columbus.
“Those are things that we’ve taken into consideration, very optimistic about people coming back and and just really seeing downtown come back to life,” Case said.
Another safety element Nationwide is encouraging: vaccines.
Case said they will be holding vaccine clinics on site next week and are allowing employees time off through their pandemic leave policy, which does not cut into their regular paid time off, to get vaccinated as well as recover from any potential side effects.
“We’re encouraging [associates]: talk to your doctor, talk to the person who knows you best from a medical standpoint, get their recommendation, and if they say the vaccine is OK for you, we’re strongly recommending that they receive the vaccine,” Case stated.