Several of my executive-level clients have expressed some frustration with their imminent “return to office” policy. They want the application of that policy to be fair and equitable, thinking through all the variables and permutations for each and every employee and their circumstances.
Which is exactly why they are so frustrated.
It’s not about the policy per se (SHRM has lots of great examples and advice), but the determination as to who can continue to work from home and when they need to come back to work. They are looking for a “blanket” policy statement that will clarify who can and cannot work from home.
However, there is another way to approach this opportunity to leverage a larger-than-before-the-pandemic remote workforce: Write the policy to say that your company continues to encourage the benefits of remote working, while recognizing that there are some concerns about how remote workers will be able to retain the benefits of the in-person experience.
Then list your concerns – whatever you think will be lost when an employee works remotely should go on that list. You might have on the list:
- Retaining the company culture and sense of teamwork
- Opportunities to network and interact with your peers
- Opportunities to be visible to management
- Professional development
- Mentoring others
Then have the team or the employee make a presentation about how they will address those concerns while working in the remote environment. They are actually creating a custom remote working plan – that you can approve, disapprove or remand for some upgrades.
Now you have a win-win answer vs. compliance with a policy. And as situations change, you can change the plan!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action. Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.