Returning to the office: 10 lessons learned from HR leaders

Anthony Hickey

While any decision around returning to the office is out of our hands, for now, it is certain to become a hot topic once again. There is much that remains uncertain, yet we can inform our future decisions by listening to the perspectives of people leaders. Those who have been making these key decisions since the emergence of the pandemic. What do organisations need to consider in this decision? What should be prioritised? How do we communicate those priorities to our people? The insightful panellists from our most recent webinar provided insights on these topics and more.


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Anne Reilly, CEO of 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.
  • 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 at Laya Healthcare

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  • 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.


To learn more about how to build and maintain the trust levels needed to support your business, get in touch with our team today.

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