May 5th, 2021


A 5-Minute Return-To-Work Plan For HR Leaders

More than a year ago, COVID-19 forced many into a work-from-home model. Though their office buildings weren’t being used, businesses swallowed a large amount of money just to keep empty spaces functional.

For many employers, talk has now turned to the return to work. Soon, employees will be welcomed back to a corporate setting where they can enjoy the office once again.

But what if some of your employees would rather continue working from home? How can you encourage in-office collaboration and promote the office as a great place for working together in person? A successful return to work plan is based on trust, mutual understanding, and of course, providing an environment that appeals to office-goers.

4 steps to create return-to-office excitement

Step 1: Harness the power of hybrid work

With the approach of your return to work, employees are crossing their fingers for a more flexible work model in the future — one that gives them access to working from both the office and from home.

If you’re preparing to incorporate a hybrid work model into your workplace, like 77% of the leaders who responded to a recent Deloitte survey,  you need to understand the challenges that come with remote and in-office arrangements. Otherwise, you won’t be able to address any potential issues early enough in your return to work process.

Given that 40% of those who participated in Microsoft’s Work Trend Index — a global survey of more than 30,000 people — are considering leaving their employer this year, employers are under a lot of pressure to evolve with changing expectations.

The question isn’t about whether or not the future of work is flexible, but whether or not employers will support employees effectively. In the Nielsen Total Audience Report from August 2020, 80% of respondents said they would rather work for a company that let them choose where they worked.

The perks of a work-from-home (WFH) arrangement include more flexibility, autonomy, and (theoretically) more time to dedicate to personal responsibilities and goals. On the other hand, WFH is linked to a reduction in trust among colleagues.


If the last year is any indication, people do value face-to-face meetings. But while the majority of employees want to return to work on a full-or-part-time schedule, it’s clear they don’t want to come back to the same exact work conditions they left behind when offices closed down last year.

Step 2: Increase employee autonomy

It’s back to the office!

The workforce is returning to work in the company office. Nerves are high. People are a little reluctant to hand back the sense of control they’ve been able to establish during their time working from home.

Following the pandemic, people have taken a higher degree of ownership over their schedules, environment, and work processes. Virtual meetings gave them the freedom to dress more casually since colleagues could only see them from the shoulders up. They preferred the ability to log on earlier than they would’ve normally started work in the office so they can end their workday a little earlier, too.

Now, they are counting on leaders to provide the services and resources needed for work and leave their work location up to choice. The bottom line: employees want autonomy.

Autonomy is the desire to direct our own lives, according to the bestselling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Author Daniel Pink believes that removing strict workplace control opens the door for more creativity and innovation.

One solution that can help employees feel self-sufficient in the workplace is a mobile space booking solution that ensures they have the ability to access their desk and room options. That way where work is located can be left to their choice.

When a flexible seating solution is implemented in your office, you may notice that employees with a high locus of control often experience higher levels of productivity and an increase in job satisfaction.

Step 3: Equip the office with an employee experience app

New technologies are part of our daily lives and the impact they have on our productivity will only continue to increase. We have entered an age where strong performance can often come down to having the right digital solutions.

Technology-driven experiences

Over the course of the pandemic, employees have become heavily reliant on technology.

  • Daily phone use rose to 4.2 hours in America last year, according to data from analytics firm App Annie. 
  • On average, people check their phone 262 times a day according to Reviews.org’s research in 2021
  • Morning Consult reported video communications company Zoom had the largest growth in brand recognition in 2020

As a consequence, employees aren’t going to appreciate an environment equipped with lagging software or out-of-date systems. Thankfully you can make an on-demand workspace model succeed when you return to work when you pair mobile tools with an employee-focused approach.

A workplace equipped with human-centric technology will allow everyone to work effectively and pave the way for a fully engaged workforce.

Connectivity between workplace tools

What could be more frustrating than software that doesn’t connect to other workplace systems and apps?

If employees use their Google calendar to schedule their workday, a room reservation system that doesn’t connect to it will be a source of irritation. That would mean duplicate work just to reserve a room and keep the information on their calendar.

So make sure the technology you invest in integrates with the systems and apps your employees are already using. After all, nobody wants a solution that makes life more difficult or adds additional tasks to their to-do list.

Step 4: Adapting to change in the post-pandemic workplace

Anticipate a change in patterns and needs

As things change, you need to be able to harness the information you have to make the most out of your space and resources. A well-informed decision is key if leaders want to return to the office successfully.

Workplace analytics are helpful for leaders who need to anticipate how needs are changing — without extra hassle or large expenditures.

For instance, Teem’s workplace analytics lets you glean insights from the conference room utilization metrics captured by our room booking software. Since most office buildings will be utilized in ways that vary day by day, to enable fluctuations in attendance you’ll need the ability to keep track of important workplace data to understand how your space is being used, when.

That way, you can avoid a situation that resembles a game of musical chairs and use accurate and up-to-date information to inform decisions and determine how your workplace can be reconfigured and optimized to best meet the needs of your workforce.

Return to work technology and better experiences for employees: A success story

A critical piece of any return to work plan will be organizational agility.

Teem’s return-to-office solutions can help you take advantage of the small victories of the past year — digital advancement and more opportunities for people to work from anywhere.

Our software helps leaders adapt to new ways of working after COVID-19.

Enable the next wave of collaboration and innovation in your office space, and get your workforce ready with the tools that will make it possible. Find out more.

Teem author thumb


Teem by iOFFICE provides enterprises with space scheduling and management, workplace analytics, building, and campus wayfinding, and visitor management to help cultivate workplaces that fuel productivity, efficiency, and creativity.


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