Four strategies for developing a return to the office plan

Four strategies for developing a return to the office plan

As lockdowns begin to lift at different paces across the globe, it’s anything but business as usual. For an effective return to the office, companies need to balance the external environment (such as government regulations) with internal capabilities that put employees at the centre of the return plans.

We surveyed over 2000 business leaders from companies across the globe on the future of work, here are some options organisations are looking to use when planning their return to the office.

1. A full return to the office

The most traditional route of the four, companies choosing a full return to the office will need to closely monitor government regulations while increasing office attendance. A staggered return of employees is a must while social distancing rules are in place. Companies can split their employees into different shifts based on specific criteria, such as job function. Safety is not only a concern while people are in the office. The use of public transportation can also put people at risk. Therefore companies should allow workers to travel outside of peak hours.

38% will use importance to business continuity as the criteria for staff returning.

2. Partly flexible

There are different ways of keeping workplace flexibility in place, such as creating smaller work groups so that people only come into the office for specific meetings or projects. This would result in people working from home a fixed number of days per week, or letting people book in office time based on their own needs. In example; Group White will come in 3 days and Group Red will come in 2 days in a week for the first week and will swap for the second week and so on.

40% of professionals would opt to work at home at least one day per week.

3. Permanent flexibility for some

Moving entire teams to a remote working model can allow businesses to reduce their office space, resulting in significant cost savings. Personal preferences and working personalities aside, some jobs can be more easily carried out from home than others. An analysis of which roles transitioned smoothly to remote working can help in deciding which teams or functions can permanently be carried out from home.

Based on our research, these are the job functions which are most eager to work from home permanently:

  • 37% designers
  • 30% IT professionals
  • 27% professionals in telephone customer service roles

4. A fully remote workforce

Companies that have adopted a 100% remote model can mostly be found in the tech sector, but not many organisations are expected to take the leap and drastically change to a fully remote working model.

Provide clarity

Once an approach has been chosen, it is key to set new ground rules and clearly communicate these to all employees. Keep communication two-way and continue to monitor the effects of previously made decisions on both employee health safety and mental wellbeing. Make sure you can explain why certain employees have different privileges than others. It is vital to realise that it is going to take time to adjust to the new situation. Some of your employees may have caregiver responsibilities that they cannot change from one day to another. Others may find it difficult to focus in an office environment after months of working from home. Empathy, transparency and clear communication are key in creating a smooth transition for everyone involved.

Find out more about what global organisations are doing to future proof their workforce. Download our New World of Work: a guide for business leaders for the complete report.