Return to
the Office Playbook

It’s been over a year since businesses have pivoted to remote work either partially or entirely. As the number of covid cases continues to drop, management and HR are beginning to communicate post-pandemic work plans. 

Post-Pandemic Work Plans

Irrespective of the model, a seamless transition to any of these return to work models requires meticulous planning. We have put together some resources to help you prepare your workforce during this transition. 

 

There are benefits and tradeoffs to each model. If you are still unsure of which workplace model to implement, try weighing the options by polling and incorporating feedback from managers and employees separately.

Download the Return to Office Survey. 

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If management has decided which workplace model to implement, it’s important to hear from employees and managers their concerns and incorporate their feedback in the Return to the Office plan for a successful transition.

Download the Return to Office Transition Survey.

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Return to Office FAQs

Create a FAQ Page for Managers and Employees

Create FAQs for employees and managers as part of your communication strategy to ensure workers have access to information at the tips of their fingers. You can create your FAQ bank from the feedback or questions gathered from your Return to Office Surveys.

Download Return to Office FAQs

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Sometimes You Need
to Over Communicate

See below a list of resources on how to design your communication strategy to effectively communicate with your employees.

  1. Download Return to the Office Communication Strategy Template

    1. Awareness

    2. Understanding

    3. Buy-in

    4. Unity

  2. Download the Return to the Office Communication Planning Guide

  3. Download A Manager’s Guide for Managing Change

  4. Download the Manager’s Checklist for Communicating Change

Whether you have decided on a hybrid model, return to it as it was before the pandemic, or still weighing on the options until it’s necessary to make a decision, communicate with your workers frequently and consistently. Like any strategic change, the adoption of any one of these models rests on the leadership team’s ability to communicate the vision of the future of work.

Planning for the Return to the Office

Reopening the office space is a major milestone in a company’s pandemic recovery plan. A recent research conducted by Harvard Business School found that 81% of employees don’t want to come back to the office or prefer a hybrid model.

Whether you decide to open now, open later, open fully, or open partially, employers should expect resistance from employees for various reasons. To overcome resistance, employers should develop and communicate their return to the office plan in advance to provide employees sufficient time to plan for their return.

 

Remember, plans help minimize stress and take the fear out of change. You can download the Return to the Office Checklist to help you get started with developing your Return to the Office plan.

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Remote Work

We have spent the last 18 months learning how to work remotely. As we consider making remote work partially or entirely permanent, we should continue to update and communicate remote work guidelines and policies.

 

Remote-First

 

Remote-first strategy is not a new concept. Companies with remote employees and teams have been practicing this long before the Covid-19 pandemic. So, what does it mean to be a Remote-First company? 

 

Simply put, Remote-First is a mindset shift that requires teams to communicate and work together as though the company is 100% remote, and without a physical presence or office location. If your Return to the Office plan is to go Hybrid, you will likely implement a Remote-First strategy. See below our resources on how to become a Remote-First company.

Companies who have shared their journey.

Atlassian     Coinbase     Dropbox     Figma     Gitlab     Grammarly   HubSpot

Microsoft     PayPal     Reddit     Shopify     Sike Insights     Slack    

Spotify     Twitter Zapier

Return to Office Resources

Remote Work, Work from Home, and Work from Anywhere

Lastly, there are nuances to Remote Work,  Work from Home, and Work From Anywhere. While you might see these words used interchangeably, there are nuances to each of the work options. 

 

Work from Home - you have a home office.

Remote Work - you have a base.

Work from Anywhere - you might not have a permanent home office or a base.

 

Designing a compensation and benefits package for the different types of remote workers is no easy task.

Return to the Office Planning: Tips for Employers 

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 Don’t rush into a decision. In other words, resist pressure to make a decision or define a policy. Take the time to gather more information from employees and managers. Data helps businesses identify risks and make informed decisions. 

 

Conduct scenario planning, a strategic thinking tool that helps leaders to think in the future. While we are not yet out of the woods, the pandemic will eventually end. The decision we make today will impact the future. Leaders must take the time to assess each option and its long term implications to the business.

Ask employees for feedback. Careful with what or how you ask. Don’t ask employees what they want if the decision is not up to them. Rather, ask them what they think the challenges are so that you can minimize resistance and support employees during the transition.

Avoid being influenced by other high-profile companies (e.g., Twitter, Google, and Facebook). Company size, culture, industry, and other variables play a critical role in the final decision on bringing employees back. Recall open-concept offices and ping pong tables were once very popular. Today, open-concept offices do not protect employees, and ping pong tables are high-touch surfaces that need to be shut down during the pandemic.