Our Top 10 Tips on implementing a “Home to Office” strategy
14 September 2020 - We have been organizing our “Home to Office” (H2O) strategy over the past four months, which is based first and foremost on protecting our talented team. As many countries and the institutional investment sector have begun planning for a return to work – so too have we been carefully implementing our potential return.
Although the majority of our staff continue to work effectively from home, we have had success in partially re-opening some of our offices. We would like to share our Top 10 Tips for implementing a return to work strategy in the hope that you may benefit from our learnings.
Shifting staff back to your offices may be more challenging than you expect, although we hope our advice will assist in making it as smooth as possible. We have taken a slow and methodical approach to our own “H2O” initiative, which has provided successful guidance for the partial return of staff in 17 of our over 40 offices worldwide.
Please see below the Top Tips on H20 from our Business Continuity Planning (BCP) team:
Give your “Return to Office” effort a catchy title and assign a committee responsible for the effort. This shows employees that you are taking the initiative seriously. Refrain from “Return to Work” as this implies your team have not been efficiently working from home during COVID-19.
Develop thorough guidelines that apply to the entire team and every office location, without exception. This could involve:
- Defining the percentage of staff allowed to return for Phase 1, based on a reasonable assessment of your network’s ability to conform to social distancing in your offices.
- Issue guidelines on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Consider removing chairs from shared spaces in your office to ensure social distancing, such as kitchen areas and conference rooms.
- Issue guidelines on the use of public transportation to and from the office.
- Consider asking employees with health risks to remain at home for an additional period of time
- Assign responsibility for tracking who exactly is in each office every day and to ensure all guidelines are being followed.
Develop a template for the management of individual offices to use when submitting their request to reopen, in which they detail how they have followed all guidelines. This should be reviewed in detail by your Return to Office committee prior to approval.
It is vital to understand who is ready, willing, and able to return to the office and who is not. This survey could ascertain issues such as who relies on public transport to get to work, among others.
Ensure offices that are even partially reopening are low risk. Considerations include the location, size of building and whether it is a property shared with other tenants. Reopening an office in a location where COVID cases are increasing should be avoided, even if the majority of staff signal a willingness to return.
If possible, training should be made available to staff via an eLearning module that can be taken online in advance of their return.
Send regular, all-staff communications to update them on the process, guidelines and preparations your company is making for a potential Return to Office. These messages should include positive messages on those offices that have safely and responsibly returned.
Some employees may want to return while others will not be ready. Allow the staff that are raising their hands to return to the office first. They likely have good reason for their request, and they know what work environment works better for them.
Do not allow all members of the same team to return at the same time, even if they have all expressed a wish to do so. Your social distancing guidelines should be followed at all times, and this is supported by not having entire teams in the same location.
It is important to show your team that you are excited to see them back at work. Make them feel the positive energy of the workplace again. At the very least, banners welcoming their return will help keep morale high.
We do hope this advice is useful and that your team’s transition from ‘Home to Office’ is a smooth one.