Returning To the Office; What Boards Should Do

Returning To the Office; What Boards Should Do
Returning To the Office; What Boards Should Do

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest business challenges of our time. The world looks much different than it did at the beginning of 2020. The pandemic has forced change upon us.

As businesses are rising back to life, it is up to the management teams to lead their companies across these changes. However, boards also play a crucial role in the matter. The board of directors needs to work with managers to develop and execute plans to face the new challenges and changes that “returning-to-work” entitles.

The first step is to ask the right questions to your employees in order to understand the challenges they will face. Then, it is up to the board and the management to act accordingly.

Rethinking Where and How the Work Will Get Done

When it comes to returning to the workplace, companies can decide between three basic options: offer remote work for everyone, go back to in-office work for everyone, or adopt a hybrid model. However, since the risks of COVID-19 evolve continuously, companies need to keep flexibility and an open mind with working conditions.

Click here to learn more about the Hybrid Work Model.

Depending on the industry, the strategy and plans moving forward will vary widely. For companies choosing a hybrid model, technology will be their best ally. Offering digital tools to guarantee proper interactions between employees and between employees and customers is crucial.

According to a survey made by PwC, nearly half of CEOs say they plan to increase their investment in digital transformation. Such investment would come in the form of tools for virtual collaboration, IT infrastructure to secure virtual connectivity, training for managers to manage a more virtual workforce, and conference rooms with enhanced virtual connectivity.

With such investments in technology, the CEOs are looking for ways to support remote work while improving productivity and reducing the gap between in-office and remote employees.

Attracting and Retaining Talent

While some cannot wait to be back at the office, many people are not ready to say goodbye to the flexibility they gained during the pandemic. That is why companies need to rethink how and where to work. According to a PwC survey, about 45% of employees prefer at least three days of remote work per week. With a lot of employees willing to leave their job if they cannot have such work flexibility.

The ability to attract, develop, and retain talent has become a critical business factor. With many companies offering a hybrid or complete remote working environment, attracting and retaining talent has become a challenge. Besides flexible working hours, companies could provide other forms of support to employees, such as access to mental health or childcare services.

Keeping The Company’s Culture Alive

How and when a company brings employees back to work will affect the office culture and the employee trust. On the one hand, if a company decides to bring back its people to the office, they might lose employees who prefer remote work. On the other hand, if a company keeps its employees at home, they are likely to struggle to maintain the company culture.

As the world adapts to new realities, companies must pay attention to how they bring people together. According to the PwC Survey, most leaders agreed that taking action on people issues and supporting burned-out employees would be essential to guarantee a successful journey towards new working models.

Understanding Their Role

While managers develop and readjust the company’s back-to-work strategies, there are a series of actions that the board of directors can take to contribute with valuable oversight:

  • Make sure to get the information you need to assess management’s progress and performance on this issue.
  • Keep good communication with managers to ensure the flow of pertinent information.
  • Monitor how management is addressing employee compensation and benefits.
  • Allow the HHRR to have higher visibility with the board. 
  • Keep an eye on how competitors are approaching and handling their back-to-work concerns. 

The success of a back-to-work strategy depends on the combined efforts of the management team and the boards of directors. It is crucial to listen to the employees and make decisions based on their needs.  A working space should always be adapted to the people and not the other way around.

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