Guide to Returning to the Workplace

Guide to Returning to the Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many lessons about work, productivity, flexibility, and the value of office space. Companies are now taking what they have learned during this time and planning their transition from remote work to returning to the office, but the common question is: What is the best way to make it happen? 

The answer is not straightforward. Returning to the workplace may look different from company to company. Planning a successful transition back into the office is all about customizing your approach to your business specifically. Take a look at key factors such as employee preferences, regional guidelines, and the meaning and functionality of your physical office space moving forward to help you determine the best route.

Determine your approach

What does “back to the office” mean? There are various levels of returning to the workplace. Banks and many financial institutions are taking a full-on approach, with plans to have their employees return full-time to the office for those that have not already done so. Other companies are deciding on a hybrid approach where employees spend some days in the office and some at home. The hybrid approach provides a more flexible schedule that many employees are seeking while still offering an opportunity for connection and engagement in the workplace. 

“Companies must acknowledge that figuring out a hybrid working model will be a long-term project and require a significant period of testing and learning,” says Phil Ryan, Director, U.S. Office Research, JLL. Finding the ideal balance between remote and in-office work comes from both internal and external forces. Companies must be willing to adapt to their model to changing employee preferences and COVID-19 regulations in their area. 

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Consider Your Space

An increasing number of employees want to return to work, but many still desire flexibility. Flexibility goes beyond schedules. It also means providing an office environment that is flexible. Companies are working to develop a variety of spaces within their offices that cater to differing employee needs. This includes providing separate spaces for collaboration, independent work, and even relaxation.

“We’re seeing landlords create their own flexible space or partner with flexible space operators to meet workforce demand and new working and living patterns,” says Hannah Sherwin, Head of EMEA Flex Advisory at JLL. What spaces would be valuable to your employees? This is the question employers must ask themselves in order to design an office space that not only functions well for productivity, but also is meaningful to those working in it. 

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Follow Regional Guidelines

Different regions and states have different COVID-19 protocols. With new information and the changing courses of the pandemic being presented frequently, it is important to consider how your return to work plan could adapt to a change in circumstances. Back in March of 2020, many employers had no choice but move to fully remote work in a very small time frame and many were unprepared for the shift. 

Creating a plan that allows for easy adaptation will not only help with changing protocols, but also offer you an opportunity to adjust your plan in the future for your company’s needs. 

Developing a return to work plan may take time, but considering the right factors and customizing them to your business can help make your transition smooth and provide both the employers and employees what they need for a meaningful work environment.

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