Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon.
In the midst of the vaccine roll-out, it’s getting easier to imagine a time when we’ll return to the office in some capacity, perhaps in 2021 or early 2022. More than half (55 percent) of 1,200 workers surveyed in late 2020 said they prefer working remotely three days a week. Whether or not companies adopt this approach, the future seems almost certain to have some kind of hybrid between in-office and remote work—and there will be a bit of a learning curve as we adjust.
HR can have a monumental impact on how this evolution plays out with a concentrated focus on communication, collaboration, safety, and flexibility. Here are two key considerations that will help ease the transition.
1. Communicate the Office Setup in Advance
The open office concept was a failed experiment to boost productivity. Fortunately, the pandemic presented us with a chance to rethink how we set up our office space. This revamped setup will look different on a case-by-case basis, but managing expectations will be a critical step in the process. HR can equip employees with specific information—such as office layout, testing procedures, and social distancing policies—ahead of time so they can make informed decisions based on their personal preferences and circumstances.
2. Explore Different Strategies for Remote Collaboration
Remember, pre-COVID, when one coworker was working from home and had to dial-in to a meeting? Being on the phone was never preferable to being in-person, brainstorming alongside other team members. But whenever we return to the office, it’s likely we’ll all be working from home some days. Some of us may be one of many permanently remote employees.
As we transition to the hybrid workplace, reverting to old habits—where the person on the phone feels at a disadvantage—will be counterproductive at best, but detrimental to business at worst. It’s time for companies to get creative with facilitating remote-friendly collaboration. Exploring new mediums, like advanced video conferencing, and new strategies—even for socialization—will be the bare minimum.
HR at the Helm of Hybrid
The future of the workplace depends on clear communication and an openness to new, creative ways of working. HR leaders will be tasked with guiding this transition, evaluating progress, and adjusting as needed.