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Omaha companies make plans to bring employees back to the office
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Omaha companies make plans to bring employees back to the office

Some of Omaha’s biggest companies are preparing to bring their employees back into their offices after the relaxation of indoor mask guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated.

While some are accelerating their return-to-work plans, others are sticking to their original plans, and still others don’t have plans set at this time.

Some companies have offices that have been open for some time, with precautions in place to help ensure employee safety.

Here’s a look at several area employers’ plans:

First National Bank

About 70% of employees at the First National Bank of Omaha have been working from home over the course of the pandemic. On May 1, fully vaccinated employees were invited to return to the workplace on a voluntary basis.

On June 1, all employees will be invited to return to the workplace, regardless of vaccination status.

Kevin Langin, a First National spokesman, said the company has been trying to balance bringing workers back with maintaining safety regulations.

Earlier this month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 guidance to say that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in most places but that people should still follow local regulations. Omaha’s mask mandate is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha has told its employees to continue to work from home until at least September and is not planning to accelerate that timeline.

Andy Halperin, a Mutual spokesman, said most of its about 4,300 employees in the Omaha area have been working from home and have adapted well to remote work.

“Our technology has worked really well, and our employees have done a great job embracing remote work, operating our business and serving our customers without disruption,” he said.

Employees who are able to work from home productively may continue to do so until at least Sept. 1. Small groups of employees can meet in person on a voluntary basis so long as they follow safety protocols.

Halperin said the company hasn’t decided about its plans beyond September, but officials are surveying employees and gathering input and are in early discussions about those plans.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska is holding off on bringing a large portion of its 1,150 employees back into the office until September.

“The health and well-being of our employees has always been one of our top priorities,” said spokeswoman Kim Arnold.

A small number of employees currently work in the building and will still be required to wear masks and observe social distancing measures.

“We are targeting bringing greater numbers of employees back to work in the office in September. Until then, we continue to operate primarily in a work-from-home environment,” Arnold said.

PayPal

PayPal, which has an office in La Vista, is in the process of preparing its office for a safe return, but company officials don’t have specific plans, said spokeswoman Caitlin Girouard.

Conagra Brands

Conagra Brands, with its Omaha office located in Heartland of America Park, has been allowing employees in their offices, with safety measures in place.

Those measures, which include masking, Plexiglas barriers, physical distancing, temperature screens, increased sanitation and staggered shift times, will remain in place.

Union Pacific Railroad

Due to railroads being classified as critical infrastructure, Union Pacific Railroad employees have been able to be in the office throughout the pandemic, though many have elected to work from home.

Spokeswoman Robynn Tysver said that in the last few months, the percentage of employees who felt comfortable working in the office rose to 40% and reached 45% during the first two weeks of May.

“As of April 1, we asked our employees who were working remotely — mainly those at the Union Pacific Center — to work a minimum of one day per week in the office,” she said. The Union Pacific Center in downtown Omaha is the company’s headquarters.

Up to 90% of the 31,000 employees who work in the field have also been going to work throughout the pandemic, and have been required to wear masks and observe social distancing guidance.

Employees in the office are still being asked to socially distance, and mask rules remain in place, Tysver said. The company also has a nurses’ line for employees with questions.


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