FM, IT and HR must work together for safer reopening. Here’s how

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The blended model of working from home and the office will be the norm for quite some time. As offices reopen, have you prepared for the return? By Marian den Ouden.

Working from home has been – and will be – the norm for quite some time, as will the blended model. Both have their challenges. But as we start to reopen our offices, have you prepared for your return?  How will you organise an environment that allows for office social distancing?

What is required for HR, IT and FM to recognise they need each other to make the return to the office smooth sailing?  

Service departments on the front lines of change

Managing the return to work isn’t as easy as it may sound. How do you implement new ways of working while balancing the safety of your employees with business continuity? And how do you uphold your organisational culture and boost your employees’ engagement in times of change?

Implementing an effective return to work policy starts with the people working on the office front lines: HR, IT and FM. The issues of productivity, safety, culture and employee engagement directly impact all service departments, so your teams need to work together on the service needs of the entire organisation. 

One way to do this is by using an enterprise service management (ESM) approach. ESM is simply about working together with different internal service departments to improve services for employees and customers. 

Why do HR, IT, and FM need each other?

In most organisations, HR, IT, and FM already interact – if not collaborate – with each other on a daily basis. Your service departments may use the same tool or you may even have a single point of contact to support staff. With COVID-19 and the constant need to update your employees, chances are your service departments are already working together more to ensure the best possible employee experience in these times.

With returning to the office now an option again, collaboration between HR, IT and FM becomes more important than ever. Each of these three disciplines has different information at their disposal and a unique perspective on what employees and the organisation need. Together, service teams will make the best possible choices about office social distancing in the best interest of the organisation and its employees.

Ultimately, any decisions about returning to work under the unclear umbrella of COVID-19 directly impact HR, IT and FM and their day-to-day work. It only makes sense that the teams who have to do the work actually make the decisions together.

Office social distancing with ESM

So, HR, IT and FM need to join forces to make your return to the office a success. But how do you start working together in an ESM approach? Prepare for office social distancing together with these three tips. 

1. Get on the same page

If there’s no consensus between HR, IT and FM, you can forget about succeeding. Service departments need to agree on the most important issues at hand. Start thinking about the priorities when it comes to returning to the office. Is it productivity? Business continuity? Maybe you simply want the office to be a safe place for your employees, so you decide to focus on employee experience. Whatever it is, you need to find a common goal. Once your goal is clear, you can decide how to get there and who else you may need to join in. 

2. Take small steps towards your goal 

Tackle one problem at a time and don’t go making plans for months to come. In this current environment, it’s wisest to take things slowly and step by step. You never know when the situation is going to change again. For all we know, we could have further snap lockdowns while making plans for the remainder of 2021. Just make sure to be transparent about the steps you do take. In times of crises and as you emerge, it’s all about expectation management.

3. Find support 

Make sure the management team fully supports office social distancing plans. It’s important to have the management team on your side, since your service departments are making decisions that will impact the office life and day-to-day work not only of themselves, but of the entire organisation. Remember that management are welcome to provide input, but their most important function is to lend weight to HR, IT, and FM’s decisions.

Ready for the next step?

Planning your return to the office provides an ideal opportunity to take the next step to test and embrace the benefits of ESM. 

Once service departments successfully work towards a common outcome, you are on the path to making service excellence a genuine differentiator for your organisation.

Marian den Ouden is AU/NZ general manager for TOPdesk.

Photo by Mikhail Derecha on Unsplash

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