Months after working remotely has become the new-normal, the time has come to suit up and assemble at our offices. It’s the WFH Endgame. However, amidst the initial excitement, making the return to work seamless will be challenging.

Companies in China, Italy, and the United States that faced the brunt of the COVID-19 early on, and went to partial or complete lockdown have reported huge hurdles in reopening. From meeting sanitary regulations to ensuring workforce productivity, the odds are stacked against the organization. According to Forrester, a misstep in reopening will have very long implications.

So how do you get this right? Let’s find out.

The Challenges

When reopening, most companies will face difficulties in two main fronts: Workforce Mentality, and Logistics Planning.

Workforce Mentality

Research says that it takes an average of 66 days to develop a new habit. Even if some debate this, everyone will agree that the mentality of the entire workforce has changed. The lines in the work-life equation have blurred and it will take a while to shake off work-from-home inertia.

Then there is the factor of fear. A CBS News poll showed that 44% of workers were afraid to go back to work. Is it now safe to go out? What if I bring the Virus home?— questions like these are swarming in their minds. The news of new cases coming in is also fueling this train of thought.

Logistics Planning

Opening up at this point will be by far the greatest test of a company’s planning acumen. The organization needs to meet all the safety requirements, plus ensure it is ready to handle everyday operations.

Sanitizing the office, installing social distancing markers, and transporting remote systems back on-premises need to happen without error. Moreover, zeroing in on how to open is crucial. Should you take a phased approach? Should there be shifts? All these need to be taken into consideration.

Moreover, companies also need to upgrade to new technologies, sync existing tech with the new system, and ensure that digital hygiene (routines to protect systems from hacking, ransomware, and malware) is maintained.

How to Win this Endgame

Immaculate planning is going to the biggest weapon in a company’s arsenal. Moreover, proper coordination between all concerned departments is crucial. The focus should be on limiting physical contact by digitizing everyday attendance like attendance, file transfer, applications for leaves, and payroll processes.

The entire company ecosystem must undergo a digital transformation that integrates productivity into any plan for reopening. When that is done, the following measures need to be taken up:

Ensure a safe work environment & provide health kits to the employees

This may seem obvious, but it is also the most important. Sanitizing the workplace and premises should be the top priority. Even the equipment re-transported to the office should be sanitized to ensure safe utilization. Moreover, social distancing should be enforced without compromise.

When Italy opened after close to two months of lockdown, the first thing they did was ensure every employee got a health kit at the office every day. It contained two face masks and a pair of gloves. This is a very effective way to ensure safety and should be replicated as far as possible.

Schedule work-timings efficiently

Whether the return to work is phased out over a period of time or working hours are segregated, the plan needs to incorporate various factors. Among them, the commute timings for workers should be given primary importance. Since many use public transport to get to work and the services are not what they used to be, organizations must plan shifts accordingly.

Setting up an Employee Self Service platform for time and attendance is an effective way to ensure proper documentation of shifts. It will also allow flexible management of the workforce while staying empathetic to their situation.

Upscale Digital Transformation

If COVID-19 has taught us one thing, it is that technology is our safety net. It is what will save us from any form of unpredictable scenario. Therefore, organizations must upgrade to new technologies that allow social distancing and provide remote solutions when they return to work. Upgrading to RPA chatbots for query resolution is a great example of such a technology.

Automating payroll processes is another highly recommended step. It will ensure the focus remains on growth rather than making payslips and compliance reports. Employee Self Service platform for leave applications, updates, and other communications are also an effective way to ensure productivity.

It all comes down to planning

Immaculate preparation will be the backbone of a smooth reopening. However, while digital transformations, logistic planning, and safety measures are our primary concerns, the physiological aspect of the scenario should not be forgotten. The employees need to feel safe to return to work. The company should be empathetic and make sure they are able to return with new vigor. Streamlining HR and payroll processes using digital solutions is a great start.

Remember, there a million ways that the Work-from-Home Endgame can play out. Make sure to choose the one strategy that gets the win.

Allsec delivers customizable HR & payroll solutions for businesses through its HR Outsourcing Solutions, using the perfect blend of personalized human interaction and digital transformation. Reach out to us for more information.