Are you ready to go back to office?
PERSOLKELLY’s Consulting Managing Director and Business Head in APAC, Anthony Raja Devadoss observed that with the ongoing vaccination programme and promise of the economy finally opening up, businesses can begin serious planning to bring employees back to offices and work places.
There is also actually a need to re-board existing employees back into the organisation, after them being months away from the office.
This is for productivity reasons.
Employees have to retrain and in a way ‘reset their minds’ to work in an office environment again,or reinsert themselves back into the office culture once, if you will.
“There is a trend that now anyone who has been working from home, they are asked to literally go back to work,” Anthony said. “It’s almost like re-hiring your employees for work again, hence the term ‘re-boarding’.”
The second reason for a re-boarding exercise is to address the emotional quotient or EQ portion. There is usually a warm welcome exercise for new employees, and after almost a year away from office and colleagues, existing employees may require being re-connected to their colleagues.
Something to note is that due to social distancing and strict SOPs to adhere to, the warmth and bonding may be lacking compared to before.
Anthony said, “These two (productivity and EQ) are pivotal points when it comes to re-boarding. The first is from the productivity perspective – getting on the ball quickly and getting work done. And from the emotional perspective – how do organisations ensure their employees get to connect to each other?”
What does re-boarding look like?
Anthony said, “Reboarding is an internal process. We advise companies how this can be done more efficiently.
“It’s in the form of an action plan that is trickled down to team leaders and people managers to ensure team working schedules and workplace capacity does not exceed what is set out by standard operating procedures.”
Another way to think of it is, it ensures how team members will restart all their activities in terms of engagement with each other and with their clients.
“It’s kind of like a productivity action plan, with some tips to ensure team meetings are regular and members can see each other,” Anthony explained.
You need to retrain them with new technologies or technologies that they have been using before. There may be virtual team tools being used, but the idea is to balance use of these tools with face-to-face interactions when employees go back to the workplace.
There is some orientation required to use new technologies in terms of what information can be shared, and how to be cyber secure.
Blending WFH and going to office
But was working from home (WFH) so unpleasant that organisations have to do away with it completely?
Anthony would be one of first to point out there is better work-life balance from the WFH trend that so many underwent the past year. For example, if before he had to travel regularly for work, spending more time at home was a welcome breather.
Another observation is that customers are more ready to make appointments to meet, virtually. In some respect, virtual meetings are more convenient to plan for and conduct, as well as are less time-consuming than physical meetings.
Two prevailing concepts
Anthony also talked about the 2-3-2 concept, whereby two days in a week are spent working in the office, three days is work from anywhere but the office, while the remainder two days is off work days.
“This concept is picking up,” he pointed out and added, “We are not taking you out of WFH right away. (The) 2-3-2concept allows you to steadily re-adjust to this work environment.
If you notice, many companies have also used this time to restructure their office and space. They have reduced their space, or made it more hot-desking and more flexible, Anthony said.
Besides 2-3-2, another method organisations are considering is the 70:30. This refers to the ratio of the workforce which can be in the office at any given time, which is 70-percent. This could be deployed in an intelligent shift management way, so those who opt-in, can be rotated between working at home and the working at the office.
Anthony opined that these two methods will become the norm.
“We do have companies who will implement these as permanent measures, and some others who use this as methods to transition to the way things used to be before the pandemic,” he concluded.