December 20, 2021

How Employers Are Preparing to Return to the Office

After a long wait, companies have finally begun drafting Return-to-Office (RTO) plans.

Major employers such as Dell, Meta and Wells Fargo have set sights on 2022 for their office reopening. Amid concerns about coronavirus variants, businesses are still moving forward with their RTO strategies, albeit cautiously.

If your company is in the process of drafting its own RTO plan, here are eight things to consider.

1. Review and renegotiate your lease.

Companies with hybrid-work models no longer need all their office space. Now is the time to review and renegotiate your lease before signing a renewal. Business leaders can make their workplaces and overhead costs more efficient by negotiating contraction or subleasing clauses into their lease agreements. If the negotiations are successful, find a full-service relocation partner as soon as possible to decommission unused floors.

2. Plan a phased return.

Consider a gradual transition back into your workplace to minimize downtime and reintroduce your teams to an in-person office environment. An SHRM survey found that 40 percent of surveyed organizations are implementing a phased approach. First, determine which roles are most hindered from performing their jobs effectively from home. Plan for critical employees to return first, then bring more people in over an extended period.

3. Redesign shared spaces.

Weigh the costs and benefits of assigning desks to specific employees or keeping them open. More than 80 percent of companies envision only bringing employees into the office three days a week, according to recent data from KayoCloud. Some offices plan to operate on rotating or “hot-desking” schedules, where workers can choose any available desk. Draft a new layout for the office and communicate with a relocation partner about the needed changes.

4. Invest in short-term storage.

Stay agile by putting any nonessential furniture or equipment items in storage. For hybrid workplaces, short-term storage options allow companies to experiment with hot-desking and other flexible seating arrangements without permanently committing. After a trial run, inventory the items in storage again to determine if they can stay out of the office for good. Liquidate those assets by finding buyers or donating to local organizations. 

5. Create a testing or vaccination policy.

A Willis Towers Watson survey of 543 employers found that 57 percent of companies require coronavirus vaccinations or plan to require vaccinations. Other employers have opted to require regular COVID-19 testing instead. Depending on your industry, company size and applicable government requirements, decide how to approach vaccinations and testing before bringing employees back to the office.

6. Reevaluate the company’s IT.

Previously, conference rooms with large screens and projectors were staples of traditional workplaces. If a company now holds meetings and presentations remotely, they may find that conferencing technology is unnecessary. Reassess the equipment in the office and determine what, if anything, needs to find a new home. If you don’t have an in-person IT team, enlist the support of a relocation partner to disconnect and resell outdated equipment.

7. Establish new protocols for food and visitors.

As the U.S. government continues to roll out new safety recommendations for indoor spaces, customer-facing locations may have to adjust their protocols to meet best practices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still suggests that ventilation, distancing, handwashing and masking can mitigate the spread of coronavirus variants. Craft policies for your company based on the size, location and occupancy of your office. 

8. Stay flexible with the RTO timeline.

Most RTO plans have at least one thing common — their timelines are not set in stone. As companies work to meet constantly-changing circumstances, flexibility is key for any office-reopening strategy.

Armstrong Relocation ensures smooth transitions for companies across the country by providing a wide range of commercial services. No matter the industry, size or location, Armstrong can meet your unique needs to get you back to business. If you’re ready to begin drafting your return-to-office strategy, call our experts today at 800.288.7396 or request a free quote online.

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