A return-to-office plan is one of your company’s most important initiatives. The following tips will help to ensure that the policies and procedures are transparent, fair, and effective:
Make policy requirements clear and specific: Clear and specific policies are essential to ensure that all employees understand what is expected of them when returning to the office. Ambiguity in guidelines can lead to confusion and create employee stress. frustration, and anxiety. It also raises the opportunity for people to flout policies out of feigned ignorance.
Apply policies consistently: Consistency is important to ensure fairness and avoid the perception of favoritism or discrimination. All employees should be held to the same standards and expectations when returning to the office. If a few exceptions are necessary – like an essential employee living far from an office location – they must be clearly explained.
Give people advanced warning: Providing employees with advanced notice of return-to-office plans can help alleviate anxiety and give them the time needed to make necessary arrangements such as childcare, transportation, or personal matters. Childcare has been an especially contentious issue for many companies. Make sure employees have time to find a solution that fits their needs.
Consider how you can offer workers other forms of flexibility: While returning to the office may be deemed necessary for some roles, organizations should consider offering flexible work arrangements such as hybrid models or staggered schedules to accommodate employees’ needs and preferences. Such policies can also help even out office utilization across days of the week. Companies that require all employees to return to office on the same days each week will likely have excess demand for resources like workstations and conference rooms on some days and other periods when their facilities sit empty. That’s not to say such a policy is wrong – every company must decide the best ways of working for itself. But having different teams stagger in-office days across the week, for example, can enable a company to reduce its real estate footprint and costs and make team collaboration more productive.
Ensure your policies can be accommodated in your current workplaces: Policies and procedures should be realistic and feasible, taking into account the physical constraints and limitations of the current workplace environment. Organizations should ensure that their policies and procedures can be implemented in a practical and effective manner. With proactive planning and the right data, companies can make a return-to-office initiative a win-win for creating a more productive workplace and real estate savings.
Recognize that policies may need temporary relaxation: Policies and procedures may need to be temporarily relaxed in response to unforeseen circumstances or changing public health guidelines. Organizations should be prepared to adapt and modify policies as necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of employees.
Ensure you don’t break promises made to specific remote employees: Organizations should avoid making promises or commitments to specific remote employees that they cannot keep. If a promise was made, the organization should find a way to honor it to maintain trust and goodwill with the employee.
Read our page on occupancy planning.