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How will employees get back to the offices?

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it is that telecommuting is possible. Organizations that transitioned to home office from home they were able to maintain their activity and, in some cases, even expand it. They recruited new employees, closed deals, and met their KPIs. The question employers must answer now is how to get back into the routine.

It is quite clear that we are in the “new normal” and that it is necessary to adopt a hybrid work model. But what is the meaning of such a model? Does it suit all organizations and all employees? How is such a model put into practice? Can each employee have their own desk? Will all employees be able to determine when and how often to go to the office? How do you keep the benefits of working from home, while taking advantage of the benefits of working together? How to make the most of both worlds?

“Organizations have realized that remote work is possible and many of them also know that there is no going back. The companies have seen the light. We’ve reached a point where we thought it would take us years to get there and bringing everyone back to a five-day workweek from the office is akin to turning off the light. There is a great opportunity now to redefine the workplace, ”says Inbal Namir, Managing Director and Head of Knowledge Management Advisory at Deloitte Israel.

The transition to a hybrid employment model means that organizations are faced with important questions about how they define work, with different branches of the organization, each with a different composition. Another question is how to get people to adopt the hybrid model on a voluntary basis and not be imposed on them.

There are some people who find it easy to work remotely, while others find it difficult. Everyone should be given solutions and make sure they stay connected to the organization. There are types of roles that are better suited for remote work, such as writing code or drafting contracts, while others benefit from teamwork. The hybrid model must be adjusted by worker and by role. “The purpose of the office has changed. We got there to collaborate, share information and have discussions in the hallways, ”says Namir.

While most companies plan to adopt a hybrid employment model, the model itself is not yet fully established. According to a Deloitte survey conducted in February, only 10% of organizations will not allow employees to work from home at all, 19% will allow them to do so one day a week, 59% will allow two days a week, and 13% will give their employees free rein to choose when they want to go to the office.

“Employees are currently in a state of uncertainty and it is important that employers define their policies. If it is possible to take flexibility and fit it into a clear framework, employees will feel more secure. There is a risk of going with the flow because employees want to know where things are going, ”says Namir.

At Dell Technologies Israel, employees have been working entirely from home since March 2020, but even before the COVID-19 outbreak, the company had embarked on a plan whereby workers would be monetarily incentivized to work for at least one day. a week from home. 50% of the staff chose to enroll in the hybrid program.

“We saw that a significant percentage of people wanted to work on a hybrid model at least one day a week from home. Working remotely is not new to us, our organization has generated and developed that way for many years. We continue to believe that employees should be given flexibility and options, subject to their job requirements and their agreement with their direct managers, ”says Lior Pony, CEO of Dell Israel.

According to him, the best way to manage remote work is through constant communication and transparency. “The more you communicate with employees transparently and allow them to be part of the organization, the stronger the bond and the more motivated they become to continue optimally,” says Pony.

When asked why go back to the office after a year working remotely, the CEO of Del Israel assures: “There is no substitute for face-to-face meetings and we do not believe that we can transition to work 100% from home. We continue to serve customers and it is also important to meet with workers in a physical setting. “

Software solutions provider Elad Systems had also embarked on a hybrid employment pilot prior to the pandemic, in January 2020, which allowed two departments to work one day a week from home and increase it to two more days a week. late. Throughout the past year the staff did home office, but when possible they adopted a varied system.

“We believe that the hybrid model is critical to maintaining our operations and business success. We manage projects for our clients and it is important for our employees to combine work from home with work from the office. Some employees were disappointed that we were back to work from the office, but we see the benefits of combining the two, “says Inbal Cinman, Vice President of Human Resources at Elad Systems.

At Elad, all departments have a fixed day a week that they work from home. Cinman says that during the pandemic people learned to be very efficient, yet at the same time they experienced loneliness, so returning to work in the office was essential from a mental health perspective.

Startup SQream forced its employees to return to work from the office as soon as pandemic restrictions allowed. “The reason we forced people to do it, even though it generated a backlash and was a risk on our part, was because we felt that teleworking was going to affect the mental health of the staff,” Saray Ben-Meir said. , Chief of Staff and Chief Innovation Officer at SQream.

One of the aspects that employees worry about when returning to work from the office is their desk space. Most organizations have chosen to use an “interactive desk” system to save office space, but now these spaces will need to be managed to ensure that team members can sit at a distance from each other.

At fintech company Finastra, where people work at least two days a week from the office, this was resolved by using an application to manage shared desktop pools. “There is an application that we use to map the office according to the groups. This introduced the requirement to keep desks free of personal belongings, so personal trinkets or family photos are not allowed, although employees can keep the keyboard and mouse in a dedicated drawer, ”said Roni Abramovich, HRVP of Finastra.

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