Back to the office: not as easy as it appears

 While the deconfinement was expected by everyone, the return to the office is not the same. It’s still far from reaching a consensus.

According to a survey conducted by Angus Reid for ADP Canada, 36% of remote-working, Generation Z Canadians—those 25 and under—are enthusiastic about returning to their usual workplaces. And that rate drops with age: it’s 34% for millennials, 29% for Generation X, and 26% for baby boomers.

How do you organize a smooth and safe return while dealing with a divided workforce, whose experience of remote work over the past 16 months has been anything but homogeneous? Four keywords to guide you. 

Safety 

Even though remote work is not optional, there’s little doubt that work places were among the most significant sources of the COVID-19 outbreak. Strict compliance with current standards must be central to planning. The recommended distancing has a direct impact on the number of people who can be on site at the same time as well as on the layout of workstations. Ventilation has been at the heart of the debate and still shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Curiosity 

In order to put in place a plan that meets staff expectations as much as possible, take the time to survey your employees. That way you’ll have a better picture of the situation. If some members of your teams are very reluctant to return, take the time to discuss it with them to better understand their situation.

Flexibility 

The past year demonstrated that being physically present in the office every day might not be necessary. But as the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind. Yes, it is more difficult to create and maintain a sense of belonging at a distance. Working for one company or another doesn’t change anything much, some people will say. The labour shortage is very real in some sectors of the economy, and experts are talking about a massive wave of resignations expected in the coming year. All the more reason to be flexible and to accept continuous adjustment. This flexibility could quickly become a factor in retention and hiring. 

Transparency

Planning for a return to the office cannot be done in restricted committees or behind closed doors. Your teams should be part of the discussion and should be involved throughout the process. If it’s not done already, update them on the next steps now. And, above all, remember that the current situation is unique… for everybody.

 

Author: Caroline Bouffard

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