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Return to Work or Return to the Office?

Whatever term you choose, you need a plan.

Your news feed must have been flooded with articles about “returning to work” in recent weeks.

Personally, this expression makes me cringe. Haven't we all worked these last few months? Talking about “return to work” says a lot about the prejudices that some business leaders still have about remote work.

Either way, returning employees to the office is challenging and requires proper thought and planning.

Companies take different approaches to this topic.

Google , for example, believes that remote work is a sustainable phenomenon and has taken steps to integrate it into the company's organization. Google CEO Sundar Pichai published a blog post sent to employees on May 5, in which he outlines his vision for a hybrid work organization: a more flexible work week where employees work 3 days on site and 2 days “where they work best” (with the possibility depending on the roles and teams to request 100% teleworking); more choice as to where employees work, with the possibility for employees to move to another office temporarily (in particular, during vacations) or permanently.

On the other hand, some business leaders , like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co and David Solomon of Goldman Sachs, have made no secret of their desire to see what they see as a return to normal with the majority of employees. returning to the office. David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, said that teleworking is a aberration which needs to be corrected as quickly as possible and that he does not expect the way the company operates to change much from what it was before the pandemic.

Regardless of where you fall between these two extremes, your return to the office strategy needs to be carefully considered.

Not only will it be decisive for your company's performance in the months to come, but it will also be a key element in attracting and retaining talent.

Office workers wearing masks

Here are a few tips.

Tip 1: Don’t make this decision top-down

Choose a collaborative approach where you take the time to listen to employees individually and in teams.

Tip 2: Find your balance as a business

How much time is needed in the office to protect connections, engagement, collaboration and learning?

What level of remote work will continue to provide some level of flexibility for your employees?

Tip 3: Learn from your employees’ experiences

What worked well? What went wrong? How can we improve things in the future?

Explore all aspects: meeting management, communication management, organization of informal discussions.

Tip 4: Redo the integration of newcomers

While you've certainly done your best to onboard them during the pandemic, it will never equal a face-to-face welcome and it's essential to support these new arrivals as they return to the office.

Consider planning team events, especially between these newcomers and their onboarding cohorts. Pairing new hires with an older employee can also help them find their place in the company and become familiar with the company's culture and practices.

If you still think that returning to the office is simply about reopening the office and returning to pre-pandemic conditions, think again.

A thoughtful approach is recommended as shown by the findings of Ifop for Paris Workplace in France (71% of employees want a minimum of 2 days of remote work) and Robert Half in the United States (1 in 3 remote workers could resign if required to return to the office full-time).

Employees seem to have already formed an idea of what the future of work will look like.

How do you approach it ?


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