Trying to Hit a Moving Target

Why decision-making is paramount to executing a successful workplace strategy

Ben Siegel
Director of Growth and Partnerships
February 4, 2021

It has nearly been a year since the world shut down as people have adjusted and adapted to new daily routines. At the onset of the pandemic, companies such as Twitter andSlack immediately declared they would be “working from home forever” while others like JPMorgan and Google reinforced the belief that the office itself plays an integral part in their business and thus, a return to “normalcy”, and the workplace, would eventually come.  

With the Biden Administration’s declaration that 100 million vaccinations will be administered by the end of his first 100 days, the business world is beginning to see light at the end of a very dark tunnel. For many company leaders though, that light is blinding them into indecision.

That glaring light of hope that the marketplace will return to normalcy carries with it the uncertainty business leaders are struggling with in attempting to forecast what the modern workplace will look like, and when. Businesses understand that what it may look like on July 1, 2021, will look different than October 1, 2021.

As the onset of the pandemic, and as business ground to a halt, companies were caught without procedures for continuing work in the face of a lockdown. The result was a collection of hurried efforts to get employees connected from their home computers.

Such confused procedural disruptions were understandable in the face of a crisis. However, confusion in rebooting a company’s workflow procedures in the coming months is far more than disruptive as it may serve as a warning flag of concern about the company’s leadership itself. Uncertainty on how to adapt moving forward, and how employees will react to a return to work has caused ambivalence for business leaders.

Because of this, companies have shifted their target for returning to the workplace time and again. Google has changed their return-to-work date three times, most recently to Labor Day 2021. While pushing out the office reopening date may appease internal consternation, it causes uncertainty and skepticism among employees.It also speaks volumes to consumers, clients, and future hires.

If business leadership does not make concrete, confident, and committed decisions in re-establishing itself as the pandemic subsides, the public will see it as a reflection of a company’s culture. Regardless of the final success in returning to normalcy, a rocky and disjoined path to “business as usual” will undercut confidence.

Further, regardless of whether that path is to return to the office, or formalized work-from-home procedures, a clear path forward is critical for onboarding new talent.

With companies’ earnings rebounding after the meltdown in Q2 2020, the war for talent is resuming. Differentiating a company’s offerings is difficult to do when comparing home offices. While at-home office allowances are sure to increase, companies with offices designed for future pandemics will stand apart from competitors.

The businesses that are proactive in their approaches to returning to work and giving their employees data for the “why” will win the race for talent and the race back to normalcy.