Return to Work - how are different companies tackling it?

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Complying with government guidelines is one thing but who wants their office experience to look like THIS!?

When we return to the office it will be important to demonstrate it is a place people WANT to be.

  • Hazard tape and risk assessments are necessary considerations.

  • However, turning the place into a "policed area" is not going to work.

  • Gartner talk about 3R's which we think is short sighted.

  • The 4th R - Ready is something as a nation and global tribe we were clearly NOT READY.

Covid Office Signoise
Covid Office Signoise

We need to convince the employees to return to work and the workplace, however if it looks like the above then will they?

  • Why risk the travel to work?

  • Will the reception area be covered in signage?

  • will I be greeted by reception areas with screens?

  • Will it feel like breaking in?

  • Has the company got a plan?

  • Will it be a nice place to go to or be in?

  • If they have a plan, what is it, is it credible?

Meanwhile the Corporates have learnt a lot:

  • Do we need the big HQ office in the middle of a city?

  • A City that requires our employees to commute 2/4 hours a day?

  • Burn fossil fuels along the way?

  • Will they resent it?

  • At the very least they will rationalise, why am I going there?

So what are the pundits saying?

Microsoft surveys shows

  • 80% of workers will work from home 1-2 days a week

  • 40% of Workers will work from home 3-4 days a week

Barclays CEO questions

  • Will we need large offices with 7,000 folk in there?

  • Will we still commute?

  • Will we offer car policies?

Deloitte predicts

  • We will remain human in a technology-driven world.

  • We will build a sustainable post-COVID future.

Corporate Real Estate

  • Will downsize Head Office, too many have learnt that technology allows productive working outside the office.

  • We will increasingly embrace technology for collaboration centric buildings.

  • We will have more AI and IoT creating intuitive building workflows with less touch points.

  • We will have technology laden intuitive reception areas, where you can transition quickly.

  • And Smaller meeting rooms with high tech collaboration tools.

  • More "Near Working" , less Home Working than we did at peak Covid times

  • More "Near Working" satellite offices or allowances

The employee

  • Will want to have a reason to go to the office, however, if they are as productive at home?

  • Why will they come in?

  • What work style will they adopt?

  • How will they travel in safely?

  • What will they want to know?

  • What do they expect?

  • Do they need and individual response?

If we take the above and assemble them in a direction of travel, here is what we believe will happen and we are seeing in the transition from REACT to RECOVER.


There are three schools of action / organisational response

1.The Google, Facebook and Amazon, City approach (HYPERTECH)

  1. We go back in January

  2. After its clear we have a vaccine or 100% testing

  3. Our people can work from home and are as productive or more productive

  4. We have our own Tech Tools for productive collaboration

2. Improvise and Hope Organisations (IHOPE)

a. Screens in reception

b. No visitors

c. Meeting rooms closed or turned into offices

d. One way systems

e. Red or green disks on every desk

f. No track and trace employee system in case of infection

g. clear communication that the office is a hazard area

h. Hazard tape and temporary signs everywhere

3. The technology aware, people sensitive organisations (TAPSO)

a. They adopt a phased back to work approach

b. They have a clear communication policy of what to do when

c. They have assessed who wants to come in and why

d. There is a clear and safe travel to work policy

e. The reception area is decongested with technology playing a key role to:

  • Send invites to all visitors with pre check-in or QR codes for express checkin

  • Flir thermal cameras that collect core temperature readings

  • Infection detection workflows that route people back out the building

  • That are thought through to ensure people at work are not put at risk

  • Touchless check-in collects data on who came in when to see whom

  • Security barriers are QR code enabled to allow controlled touchless transition

  • Motion sensors and screens give you way finding instructions so you know where to go.


  • My workplace booking APP enables me to pre-book space

  • it clearly communicates the social distancing rules are in place and its safe to sit in my seat.

  • I can clearly see how sanitisation after I have used the space works

  • I checkin via my device using Geo Location positions so I don't touch unnecessary surfaces.

  • I can locate colleagues and when they are in that I want to catch up with

So in the recover phase

  • The improvisors are those going to suffer

  • They will not get revenues and employees back to pre Covid levels easily

  • Their offices will be avoided by employees, who go why take the risk (quite rightly) and in time if they survive they'll migrate to either Type 1 companies or Type 3.

  • The real questions is how fast will they learn?

Ready Phase

The Type 1 Employers are going to, at some point in Q4 make a decision, Back to work? Or extend home working or transition to Type 3 organisations.

What will they consider?

  • Is a Vaccine available?

  • Is Transport Safe?

  • Do we transition from HQ to Near Working?

  • Are we losing anything working from home?

The IHOPE's who tried to improvise are going to struggle to get back to pre-Covid performance, they will split into two camps:

  • Quickly Pivot

  • DEAD

Those that then quickly pivot will move to type 3 TAPSO organisations, then transition to the 4thR Ready phase.


To answer what the ready phase TAPSO's do we have to ask some pretty searching questions

What do I go to the workplace for?

  • First meeting with a client

  • Collaborating with colleagues that is better done physically rather than virtually

However look at the Microsoft stats and the previously 47% average occupancy HQ is going to drop to 30%.

  • However while social distancing is in, if I've lost half my desks that is still going to need managing, especially Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

  • So TAPSO Technology aware people sensitive organisations are going to continue to manage their space with technology led solutions.

  • The key is that Technology better be better than at home, so what does that look like?

  • Prediction 1 - Smaller Meeting Rooms, more virtual attendees and more guests coming to the meeting virtually or for real to collaborate.

  • Prediction 2 - Meeting Room Technology for booking and launching meetings that is intuitive, knowing whose attending virtually, rightsizing the room and launching the call.

  • Prediction 3 - Car Allowances will be ditched for TAPSO Near Working Centres where you will work within 30 minutes of home, NOT in the home, so you get the separation from family and work life.

  • Prediction 4 - City Centre HQ's will shrink and become Technology and People sensitive collaboration hubs.

  • Prediction 5 - City Centre "Petri Dish" Transport systems will be overhauled with effective disease control ventilation and safe distance or overcrowding controls.

  • Prediction 6 - Occupancy Based Cleaning will be the norm, only clean what has been used.

  • Prediction 7 - TAPSO focused cultures will win in the competition for people and performance.

  • Prediction 8 - Companies will be measured as to how TAPSO they are focused and allow employees to grow.

  • Prediction 9 - Companies that don't have grow your people and allow them to learn cultures will have high GIG economy workers levels, high cost bases, as they will not be able to attract and retain high learning and growth focused, team members.

  • Prediction 10 - TAPSO companies will have highly Integrated partner eco-systems that out grow, outlearn and outperform, single product or service organisations that will wither as they become less relevant.

  • Prediction 11 - The data that flows between those integrated partners will become the new currency of "relevance" in terms of technology and people.

Glossary of Terms


  • Companies that are software only high growth, high relevance companies.


  • Companies that improvise and make do, trying to do things quickly and cheaply.


  • Technology aware people sensitive organisation that has non intrusive tech that delivers a safer, more efficient, more productive workplace that places people and their safety, performance and growth at the heart of its culture.

Occupancy Based Cleaning

  • Using technology to only clean what has been used and needs cleaning.

Multiple Data Sources

  • Combining data from different databases to create a master database.

Master Database

  • The primary database from where you can interrogate and report.

Reporting Persona

  • Different people with different roles (persona) require different reporting views.

Covid-19 Workplace Monitoring Dashboard

  • A dashboard that shows how your workplace is performing against your workplace standards for managing the Covid return to the workplace.

Occupancy Monitoring

  • The setting of maximum occupancies per floor to achieve workplace safe distancing.


  • When people ignore safe distancing and group together, often detected by sensors and reported via the Covid-19 Workplace Monitoring Dashboard.

Safe Seats

  • Seats that are available for booking that have been sanitised after previous use.

Crisis Management

  • The steps you put in place to manage the crisis.

Post Crisis Recovery

  • The management of the return to work via compliance with government guidelines and managing the delivery of them. Examples are safe distancing, post occupancy sanitisation, booking of workplaces, decongesting reception areas, implementing touchless processes, express check-in, thermal core temperature detection.

Recession Proofing

  • Being ready for the next Covid , Sars or other pandemic.

Relogix Data Reporting

  • The tool to aggregate data into a reporting suite.

Safe Workplace monitoring

  • The reporting system used to check all your crisis recovery steps are working


  • Software as a Service which is a monthly bill you pay for the software and the service of its updating and maintenance.


  • The skill used to review the data and reveal the findings

Safe Workplace Reporting Sources

  • These are the sources that deliver the data to feed reporting in order to for you to get an accurate picture from your Covid-19 Workplace Monitoring Dashboard. They could be visitor management systems, Workplace booking tools like Condeco or desk sensors, badging data.

Integrated Partners

  • These are software based vendors that feed data to each other to enable your workplace efficiency or experience to be optimised.

Pandemic Workplace recommended vendors

  • Visitor Management - Proxyclick / VPOD

  • Desk safety and management - Condeco

  • Workplace safety and management - Condeco

  • Covid-19 Workplace Monitoring Dashboard - Condeco Power BI dashboards

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