Coronavirus (COVID-19), HR Management & Compliance

Determining Whom to Bring Back to the Office

With multiple vaccines widely available and millions already vaccinated across the United States, the country is looking forward to returning to a world that, even if not exactly pre-pandemic “normal,” at least allows for the resumption of many in-person, group activities. This, of course, includes in-office work.

office return
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Despite their worst fears, many companies have found that productivity did not plummet amid the mass shift to remote work. In fact, some have found that productivity for some activities has even increased, and employees tend to enjoy the ability to work from home.

Still, most companies are unlikely to remain completely remote indefinitely. They may, however, be selective in which employees and teams to bring back to the office and when. Here are some considerations for companies and HR departments to consider when making these decisions.

Nature of the Work

Due to the nature of their work, some staff may sit at their workstation all day performing their job functions and rarely interact with anyone else. Others may be part of highly collaborative teams that regularly jump into breakout rooms for brainstorming or group work sessions. Obviously, there are fewer reasons to bring the former back to the office than the latter.

Employee Preferences

While some might assume that all employees prefer working from home, this is certainly not the case. Many employees can’t wait to get back into the office, either because they miss their coworkers or the structure of the office or because of any number of other reasons.

Employee Performance

While many companies found their productivity did not significantly decrease when moving to remote work, there are likely exceptions at the individual level. Regardless of their preferences, some staff might not be cut out for the independence of remote work, and managers may want to get them back into the office, where they’re at their most productive and effective.

Competitive Landscape

No company exists in a vacuum. With so many organizations moving staff remote over the last year and such a large proportion considering long-term remote work options, companies have to consider the competitive landscape of their industries before making a decision on whether to require staff to come back to the office. Some employees may see the flexibility of working from home as a key aspect of job satisfaction and may even consider switching jobs to get it.

While the world is likely still months away from a true end to the COVID-19 pandemic, that end is certainly in sight. It’s important for companies to think about whom to bring back to the office—and when to bring them back—so they can have a clear and effective plan for doing so when the time is right.