Back to the office: Getting prepared and reassuring collaborators

While several people dream of a return to offices, others swear only for remote working... In such situation, what will the post-Covid-19 professional world look like? If the vaccination progress brings new perspectives for companies, it is still necessary to prepare the return to the office.

Here are a few alternatives to be explored by Human Resources or Communication departments for post-Covid-19 work organisation, especially to reassure collaborators amid such a delicate period.

How to support your employees in this post-Covid-19 work organisation?

From a Human Resource standpoint, ensuring the respect of health measures is a priority, to ascertain collaborators’ safety. The enforcement of these health measures must be made in collaboration with the staff represent. In 2020, according to the Malakoff Humanis Annual Remote Work Barometer 2021, employees have experienced the strong challenges of remote work (especially with regard to maintaining social ties and team spirit).

We must therefore provide them with the best possible support when it comes to employees returning to the office. This means training them, giving them visibility on the expected objectives and involving them in the strategy roll-out. For more transparency, HR teams can also listen to and survey employees to find out their expectation.

Organisation and adaptability are keywords to support a successful return to offices. Regular readjustment is vital, as government measures change constantly. In such situations, setting up a task force may be very useful. This temporary unit may therefore make fast decisions and organise or reorganise remote or in-office work.

Survey your employees on their expectations regarding their return to the company: pace, number of employees, measures, specific needs, etc.



Adaptability: a solution to provoke a smooth return

Adaptability is the master word in the Human Resource’s strategy for collaborators’ return to offices. What is the idea behind it? The idea is to reassure collaborators progressively, for a smooth transition. This can only be achieved by creating a new collaborator experience which considers Covid-19 ensuing mutations. For example, you may opt for a progressive return to office, depending on professional obligations, or let employees keep a few of the advantages associated with remote working  (with sport activities, for example, thus giving them the opportunity to take care of themselves with a customised schedule).

According to the Malakoff Humanis Annual Remote Work Barometer 2021, 75% of employees and 66% of managers believe that remote working will continue experiencing steady growth in 2021. Yet, 30% of remote workers are worried by the eventuality of a part-time remote working, a few days per week, in 2021. It is thus vital to consider a hybrid work setting with alternate periods of onsite and remote working. This hybrid work setting aims to maintain the balance between professional and private lives which collaborators have adapted to during the pandemic. More than ever, special attention must be given to wellbeing and quality of life at work.


Communication: the key to motivate collaborators for a return to office

Sparkling collaborators’ zeal to return to office and creating conviviality regardless of the pandemic are major challenges to address in the post-Covid 19 setting. To achieve these objectives, communication teams must further consider the new expectations of employees who experienced remote working for several months.

Undoubtedly, transparency will be vital for a successful implementation of this approach. Hence, the Communication and Human Resource Departments will be held to work in close collaboration to inform the staff on the approaches implemented by the managing board, through various methods, from the most entertaining to the most formal communication tools. Corporate social media, podcasts, videos…

New digital transformation tools will be outstandingly relevant to unite collaborators over a common corporate culture, often strongly influenced by the Covid-19.


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If, like Extia, your HR teams have conducted a survey to measure employees' experiences during the lockdown period and their expectations regarding the return to the office, do not hesitate to share the results internally. This will reinforce the sense of belonging and motivation of employees, while establishing the basis for a thoughtful and well-organized return to the office.

Overall, communication should help to reconnect with colleagues even before the lockdown being lifted. According to Malakoff Humanis' annual Telework 2021 Barometer, the collective has an impact on employees' commitment and well-being. 56% of homeworkers feel more committed when they work in the office. The company is seen as a place of exchange, learning and development. 26% of remote workers report to have missed the social connection in 2020, so much so that it has affected their mental health (compared with 12% in 2019).


New rituals: a good idea to boost cohesion

Creating new rituals may unite workers over common values and boost cohesion. All new tools implemented should effectively include collaborators who will certainly continue working remotely. 

As you may have understood, both in terms of Human Resources and Communication, proper preparation for a return to office will enable you better support your staff for change. Making the return to office appropriate, transparent and customised will enable you secure all chances to build a new, sustainable and commonly approved work organisation.