Returning to the office: 10 lessons learned from HR leaders

Anthony Hickey

What do organisations need to consider in the decision to return to the office? What should be prioritised? How do we communicate those priorities to our people? The insightful panellists from our "lessons learned" webinar provided insights on these topics and more.


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Anne Reilly


Paycheck Plus

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  • The sensitive nature of the work conducted at Paycheck Plus necessitated a “Clean Room” office environment, where items such as mobile phones could be present. As such, Covid-19, and a move to remote working presented operational challenges for the organisation.
  • From a leadership perspective, communication was vital in ensuring a successful transition to remote work. Team meetings would become even more important, with the organisation continuing existing, and adding new team meetings, both formal and informal in nature.

See more: 7 Tips for Better Zoom Meetings

  • As the team were working remotely, a decision was made to invest in an office revamp. A lesson learned during the pandemic was that a paper-free model was viable for the organisation, and cabinets could be removed, creating a more spacious office setting.
  • When a return to site was deemed appropriate, processes were put in place to ensure safety. This strategy included establishing a Covid Committee, adopting a safety-first approach, and ensuring vulnerable staff received appropriate support.

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Brid Seymour

Director of HR & Team Development

Laya Healthcare

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  • Laya Healthcare, being a truly values-led organisation, make critical decisions with their core values in mind. It is those values that informed the organisation’s pandemic response, with respect to both clients and employees.
  • As the vaccination rollout occurred, attention turned to how the organisation would return to site in September. In devising this plan, staff perspectives were sought, with their preferences being integrated into the organisation’s strategy. 

  • With a phased return to office planned, rising case numbers would see the organisation adapt their messaging. Communications would change to convey a choice-based return to site, which would subsequently pivot to a direction to remain working from home.

  • Since the government renewed their advice to work from home, Laya Healthcare have quickly adapted their traditional plans for this time of year. Camaraderie focused events, such as their annual Christmas get together will now be remote in nature.

  • Looking forward, Laya Healthcare will combine their return to office plan with additional aspects of strategic importance, all of which have the intention of maintaining their firmly established, positive and productive culture.

Excellent insights from both panellists, which can help any organisation inform their future decisions on returning to the office. While we can see that a different approach has been adopted at each organisation, there are essential qualities seen in both. Trust will always be vital to how we work, whether that is on-site, remote or hybrid. When sufficient trust levels exist in an organisation, resources and attention can be devoted to ensuring suitable working systems and communication channels are in place, rather than addressing any concerns about productivity.


More resources on this topic:

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