Business leaders have no shortage of challenges to wade through these days; between the ongoing pandemic, the Great Resignation, and evolving cyber threats, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and even a little lost as to where to start.
This is why we've spent the past few months taking a deep dive into what it's going to take to plan for a return to our offices--with safety, productivity, and employee retention at the forefront.
One thing we've learned over our 30 years in the IT outsourcing business is that when things get crazy... it's time to call in the experts! We enlisted the help of six local thought leaders -- ranging from a Hopkins-trained epidemiologist to a 25-year veteran of Human Resources consulting -- to help provide our clients and greater community the tools to successfully navigate all the areas most affected by the turmoil at play.
To help guide, color, and maybe even challenge the conversations your organization is having about re-entry and hybrid work, we outline top considerations below.
For an even more detailed exploration of all the fantastic advice our experts offered, you can download our Re-Entry Playbook here:
Top 6 Considerations When Transitioning to Hybrid Work
1 - The Science of Safe Re-Entry
First and foremost we must, of course, address if and when it is safe to return to our offices and in what capacity based on the changing nature of the pandemic and what we continue to learn about the virus and vaccinations.
Consider: Have we established clear criteria to guide our re-entry timeline? Have we put all feasible safety measures and policies in place?
2 - Creating a Productive, Engaging Office Space
In a hybrid work scenario, it becomes much more important to have an office space that not only allows our teams to collaborate effectively, but that also actively engages them with our corporate culture.
Consider: Does our space promote inclusion and engagement while keeping our team comfortable from a health standpoint?
3 - Mastering Hybrid Meetings and Events
As tired as we may be of video conferences, fully virtual meetings and events were fairly straightforward. Once our teams are split between their homes and our offices, it becomes a lot more complicated to make our meetings effective--and to avoid unintentionally isolating certain people.
Consider: Does each participant in our meeting have an equivalent opportunity to contribute? Does our technology make this easy?
4 - Securing Your Data, Not Your Network
When our teams are constantly jumping back and forth from their home office to your physical office, we have to embrace a new paradigm when it comes to cybersecurity; traditional guidance to "secure your network" is no longer sufficient.
Consider: In what places does our corporate data live? Have we taken all appropriate measures to secure each of those locations?
5 - Navigating HR and Benefits for Hybrid Teams
We also need to build and revisit policies both from a liability and an employee retention point of view. The days of considering working from home as a "perk" are decidedly gone, and minimizing the risk of burnout must become a priority.
Consider: Are our policies responsive to the "new normal," or do they reflect a time or mindset that has passed?
6 - Leading Dispersed Teams Effectively & Equitably
Lastly, all levels of our leadership need to adapt their approach to hybrid work. With dispersed teams, we have to be especially sensitive to avoiding barriers to equity such as proximity bias, and allowing interpersonal connections to wither.
Consider: Have we explicitly worked with our management team to create alignment around how hybrid work changes the nature of their responsibilities?
Some Expert Answers
We hope the list above gives you and your team plenty to think about as you map our your transition. If you'd like to read through the specific recommendations that industry experts offered us, you can download our Re-Entry Playbook here.
Insights include how to craft your organization's vaccination policy, a security preparedness checklist, suggested conference room technologies, common pitfalls with equity, and more.
Bonus Tip: Involve Your Team!
One recurring theme we heard from all six of our industry experts was that it is absolutely imperative to involve your teammates in as many aspects of this transition as you possibly can.
Before, during, and after you make any notable change to approach or technology or policy, you should solicit input and feedback from your team. What is the intended goal of the change? How will you measure success? How are your people feeling about it? What should you keep doing? Stop? Start?
Consider team-wide surveys, one-on-one discussions, pilot groups, dedicated Slack channels--whatever it takes to keep the pulse.
As recent resignation rates have forcibly reminded any of us that may have forgotten: our people are and always will be our most valuable asset. Remember to keep them top-of-mind no matter how many challenges you may be juggling.
Besides: we're at our strongest when we work together.