The New Normal: What is the role of the office?
Most states have started hinting about re-opening to full capacity. Some of them have eased locked down measures so that companies and social events can start functioning like they did in the past. Prior to the pandemic, offices were critical to fostering productivity, instilling company culture, and promoting collaboration between colleagues. However, the pandemic shifted the expectation and attitude of the role of the office and drove companies to conform and adjust to new behaviors. There was an obvious uptick in the remote workforce and some companies, such as Twitter, are urging their employees to continue to work remotely while others are becoming more flexible and allowing the option to come back to the office.
Unfortunately, not all companies are the same and there is not a “one size fits all approach” to coming back to the office. So how can companies take measures to provide a safe working environment for their employees?
The Corporate Culture Transformation
As companies ease their way to opening their offices, leaders need to design and decide different approaches to come back to the office based on their employees’ roles and what is best for the company. There are 3 different models to consider.
- Full Snap Back: 100% Back to the office: In this approach, employees are completely back in the office 5 days a week. Smaller companies (<100 people) are more likely to adopt this approach and typically would work best for roles that require onsite tools and technology.
- Hybrid: 50% In-Office / 50% Remote: In this approach employees may go back to the office 2 days a week and work remotely for 3 days or vice versa. This approach gives the employee the autonomy to decide when to come to the office but also allows some work/life balance.
- Remote: 100% Remote: In this approach, employees are no longer coming to the office and are working from home. With new technologies and collaboration tools, this approach is typically adopted by larger companies (>100 people) where productivity is not impacted.
Regardless of which approach companies take, management teams should conduct a full role analysis to understand which roles are required to come back to the office to minimize business impact.
Managing the New Culture of Working
Incorporating a new way of working is likely to go awry without employee buy-in. It is crucial for leaders to manage employee expectations, demonstrate empathy and flexibility and create new processes on how work is completed. This new way of working will present a change management challenge and leaders need to be prepared on how to address concerns, communicate the new company’s vision and strategy, and put employee safety first. Leaders can use this as an opportunity to strengthen their culture and increase employee engagement and morale.
We have talked about the potential new role of the office and how to manage a new culture of working but what are some tactical measures companies can take as they open up their offices?
- Prioritize what roles need to come back to the office and when
- Leverage tools and technology for roles that can work remotely
- Provide safety and guidelines for roles that need to be onsite
- Communicate the shared vision of the company
- Be creative and create new processes on how work is completed
Navigating the post-pandemic world is going to be an adjustment and business challenge for most companies. To maintain operations and to minimize business impact, companies and management teams need to consider what approach is best and remain flexible. They need to remain agile and nimble as they adapt to the new normal. If your company is going back to the office, visit our website to learn how Collective Insights can help your business through any change management or culture transformation to get you back on the right foot.
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Chelsea Kruger | Sr. Principal Engineer | Amazon Local Commerce
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