It is an interesting time to be working in Human Resources to say the least. As the Director of People Operations at Infinite Blue, I wanted to share some insights as we navigate re-opening our offices together. Over the past year-and-a-half; we have closed, re-opened partially, closed again, re-opened partially and now we are eyeing a full reopening in the fall.
The Delta variant has caused a debate among companies on when, how and if to fully re-open their offices. A quick search will show that the only consistent thing when it comes to plans for re-opening is inconsistency. Google and Microsoft are planning to re-open in October and mandate vaccinations for anyone working in the office; Facebook and Amazon headquarters are pushing to early 2022. AirBnB has pushed their return to office to September 2022.
As of right now, Infinite Blue employees are expected back in the office 3 days a week mid-September. We have temperature checks in place at the entrance, and we are requiring any employee who is not vaccinated to remain masked in the office. But we are not ignoring the current rising case numbers and are ready to act quickly on any necessary adjustments to ensure our team is safe.
So, what can companies do to support their employees while they make their decisions?
Communication is key. Communicate why re-opening makes sense for your organization and what everyone can gain from it. You should also be giving your employee as much notice as possible if plans are changing. You want to give them time to take care of whatever they need to in order to prepare to either stay remote or come back into the office fully.
2. Have empathy.
Employees had to hurry up and arrange their lives and homes to continue to be productive while working remotely. It’s been hard, but they have found a way and now they have found their rhythm. As we ask them to come back in, some will be excited to get back to a more normal work/life balance. But, with the uncertainty brought by variants, some are bound to have reservations and fears. If leaders can be clear about plans and share their uncertainty, they can build trust.
3. Be flexible.
You may have to shift the plans that you laid out when presented with new information. While that can be disappointing, supporting your employees and keeping your business running are the priorities. And, if this past year-and-a-half has taught me anything, it’s that people can overcome extraordinary circumstances to keep pushing forward.
With all this uncertainty about returning to the office, we know that we can always be certain on one thing: supporting our employees. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn should you want to discuss this topic further.