Asian companies begin to plan for return to workplace

Gartner has identified seven key areas that HR leaders in Asia see as foundational for a successful return-to-workplace plan.
By: | May 4, 2020

In Asia, transparency, flexibility and iteration appear to be key in return-to-workplace plans when recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak begins, suggested Gartner.

As companies begin to plan how to manage the return-to-workplace transition, Gartner has identified seven key areas that HR leaders should focus on, with health and safety heading the list.

Employers need to ensure in-facility safeguards are in place, including masks, hand sanitisers, employee temperature screening, social distance, as well as regular and aggressive cleaning schedules for buildings and facilities.

Organisations in Asia are also collecting and monitoring a variety of new employee data to inform their return-to-work plans. Be candid and transparent in communicating key information to employees and when they return to the workplace, continue to measure and monitor employee engagement levels, mindset and level of comfort.

Most organisations that have begun returning employees to the workplace have done so in phases, Gartner reported. More importantly, address employee concerns and make sure no one is forced to return if they do not wish to.

As a return to the office draws near, leverage all regular top-down communication channels to communicate proactively and frequently with employees. Organisations can also create opportunities for manager-employee one-on-ones and other channels to allow employees to express concerns freely.

Many employees have proven that they can excel in remote work. Organisations should capture highly productive behaviours and workarounds that can be absorbed into everyday best practices once employees return to more traditional working environments.

Gartner’s review of various types of organisations in Asia also found that it is effective to grant decision-making autonomy to local HR teams. This practice, said Gartner, keeps employees safer because local HR teams can respond to local outbreak conditions, and respond more swiftly to the specific needs of local employees.

Lastly, organisations need to plan for a protracted period of disruption and be prepared to react and respond repeatedly as the situation continues to develop. These include providing and updating the technology employees need to be productive, actively fortify remote work policies and evaluate long-term plans for remote work.