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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on the lives of people across the globe. Corporate professionals were especially affected by the lifestyle changes mandated by the virus. Working from home and remote workspaces became the new normal.
Now, COVID vaccination drives have picked up across the world and cases are steadily going down. Various companies are beginning to debate strategies to bring employees back to office. Yet, this is an important decision, and leaders have to consider the best way forward for all. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that will yield optimal results.
After over 2 years of working from home, organisations may face challenges when they ask employees to come back to work in an “office environment”. Many companies are considering a flexible and "hybrid work" model. But, changing the status quo will impact the professional lives of employees across industries.
1. Conduct outreach on employee sentiment - HR leaders may consider sending out polls and questionnaires to employees. This will help specify expectations on how and when employees will be asked to return to office.
2. Don't rush the process - Employees need to deal with many different types of situations when working at the office versus working from home. This includes the added commute time, dealing with a "new environment", i.e. the workplace, and even engaging with co-workers in person.
3. Flexibility is the key - This is a challenging situation, and so asking employees to go back to office will work best when HR leaders take all the information into account. Being rigid on official policies and trying to force employees to attend office in person may backfire.
4. Corporate wellness programs - If the pandemic taught organizations anything, it’s that employee health and well-being are of the utmost importance. While India Inc. is no stranger to corporate wellness packages and employee assistance programs, they still have a long way to go.
5. Maintain clarity on safety protocols - Post-COVID, it is important to reimagine the office environment to ensure the safety of all employees. This includes:
As per Hibob's global survey, over 90% of organizations reported that a flexible work environment aids the professional development of women. This is especially true in the case of working mothers.
While COVID introduced drastic changes to everyone's daily lives, things are on the mend. Returning to the office, with all its challenges and positives, may very well be the final push India Inc. needs to create an exciting new normal. HR leaders can help ease the transition of going back to office & deal with any other challenges that may arise in the process. This can be done by understanding the needs of the hour and employing a well-planned approach.
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