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Building the hybrid workplace: lessons on reopening from Australia

Australia is at the vanguard of world-wide efforts to reopen offices. The most recent 7-day average of new cases of COVID-19 is fewer than 20 for the whole country. Businesses in Australia are authorized to operate workplaces at 100% capacity. What lessons can companies that have already made the return to the workplace teach us? Leaders from CultureAmp, Reece Group and REA Group shared key lessons on reopening.

Envoy’s Rawee Gobena spoke with the following workplace leaders:

  • Madeline Mios, Office & Facilities Partner at Culture Amp. Culture Amp is the market-leading culture and people platform. They support over 4,000 companies with engagement and performance products.
  • Jessica Capuano, Workplace Development Manager at Reece Group. Reece Group is Australia’s largest supplier of bathroom and plumbing products. They have approximately 8,000 people across 800 locations.
  • Laura Naim, Workplace Experience & Sustainability Manager at REA Group. REA Group is a global real estate listing business headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.

The panelists discussed reopening workplaces with a hybrid work model. This means offering employees flexibility in when and where they work. Three key themes emerged in the conversation. 

First: Return to work plans should focus on the holistic well-being of employees. Your plans need to follow government regulations. But, that’s not enough. Employee physical health, mental health, comfort and safety matter as well. An effective return to work plan starts with building the right cross-functional team. 

Second: Even if your company offered a flexible work plan before the pandemic, they need an update. There are likely unexpected considerations when extending flexible work arrangements to all employees. This means providing equipment such as laptop computers and monitors. It also means considering remote colleagues as part of meeting and activity planning. 

Third: There is no such thing as too much communication. Establish consistent communications so that employees know relevant company guidelines, policies, and  regulations.

Other key takeaways from the webinar include:

  • Survey employees to understand sentiment about returning to work
  • Safety  is a major consideration for employees that commute to offices
  • Consider allowing teams to set their own hybrid work schedules
  • Employees see offices and workplaces as the ideal environment for collaboration 

The return to work will look different for each workplace. There are insights from companies that have made the shift to a post-pandemic model. Watch the on demand video of the webinar to learn more about hybrid work.