Return to the Office & Remote Work Policies
In May 2021 RCC surveyed its HR community about their organization’s plan regarding returning to the office. This is a top-of-mind preoccupation for most of our members as reopening plans are announced and we move closer to being able to return physically to work. The below survey results can hopefully help you position yourself with others on that question.
1. Have you communicated a date of return to the office to your employees?
Majority of respondents are waiting for confirmation from government/public health before communicating a return to the office. Many employers are also waiting to have a clearer idea of their return-to-work plan before communicating it to their teams.
2. If you answered yes, are you planning a return to the office?
3. Have you surveyed your employees about their plan/preferences to return physically to the office?
4. What is your company’s plan post-pandemic in regard to a physical return to the office?
Majority of respondents are planning a hybrid return to work, although many questions remain about how this return will be executed and whether some roles need to be physically present at work while others can easily continue to work remotely. Only a small portion of respondents are expecting 100% of their staff to return physically to work when it is permitted. Some members have also mentioned they expect the new hybrid mode may be temporary and used as a transition to an increased physical presence at work once employees get used to going back to the office again.
5. If you plan on offering a hybrid return, what is the minimum number of days employees will be expected to be physically in the office?
6. Have you made any changes to your office space in light of the pandemic? (Reduced space, moved office building, created hoteling space)
Amongst respondents that answered no to this question, several of them have added that they are considering some changes or planning a move at the end of their current office lease.
7. If you answered yes, what type of change have you made?
- Office spaces being reconfigured, added hoteling spaces vs. dedicated offices. Employees will have to pre-book online their workspace for the day.
- Converted offices to collaborative spaces.
- Moving office space to a reduced capacity one.
- For employees that chose to work remotely 3+ days, their office desk will become a shared resource.
8. Has your company implemented a remote work policy or put guidelines in place?
9. What are your company’s main concerns with remote work?
Although IT and assets security always remain a concern, the main challenge with remote work seems to be employee’s wellbeing and creativity & collaboration. Employees miss the social interactions at the office and the informal conversations that often led to new ideas and quick problem solving
10. What has been your own/your employees biggest challenge(s) with working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic?
11. Have you implemented any programs, policies or initiatives to respond to those concerns?
- Increased mental health benefits and offering, consistent communication around EAP availability.
- Team building meetings/activities as well as a blackout period for emails.
- Offering training modules on how to adapt and get the most out of working remotely.
- Flexible office hours and work arrangements.
- Using a monitoring software for productivity, passive, non-passive time.
- Partnering with an online medical service, shifting the focus to a wellbeing centric culture.
- Guide to support people managers with remote workers, providing info on managing performance remotely, having remote meetings, mental health, etc.
- Weekly zoom calls, one on one calls and virtual social activities. Offer to have small number of employees (by department) come into office once a month.
- Communicate to keep everyone in the know and connected.
12. Have you provided your employees with any sort of allocation/allowance to purchase equipment to work remotely?
Majority of respondents have not provided any special allowance or allocation to their employees to purchase home office equipment, but several of them have mentioned considering it if remote working becomes a permanent reality, mainly a one-time allowance to purchase additional home office supplies to make their home office more comfortable.