Flex is Next: Delta variant delaying RTO plans, forcing companies to stretch

Britta Schellenberg
Britta Schellenberg

A recent wave of the contagious Delta Variant, as well as new CDC guidance on masks, is causing companies to reconsider the timing of their RTO plans, and what health requirements (i.e., vaccine and/or mask mandates) should be in place when workers return. 

In yoga, hanumanasana or “the splits” is a challenging pose that requires flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. It now looks like companies and employees may need to add some hanumanasana to their daily routines too.

As VP of Marketing here at Robin, I read a lot about the hybrid workplace, and every two weeks I share my favorite articles with you. 

Feel free to let me know what YOU think. 

Let’s start the conversation.

WSJ: Unpredictable Days Ahead for RTO

A Wall Street Journal article of August 2nd, As Delta Variant Rages, More Workers are on Edge about RTO, explains just how uncertain RTO has become in recent days: 

“New and at times confusing guidance from health officials and employers on wearing masks indoors, and questions about whether vaccines will be required or not, have workers grappling with what to expect at work, or even whether to come in.”

If that weren’t challenging enough, employees are feeling more anxious, which threatens to undermine RTO productivity. The only appropriate response to these anxieties is focusing on employee experience. 

As we say at Robin, “put people above places.” The WSJ notes that “high-profile companies, particularly in technology, including Apple Inc. and Google, are postponing office-reopening dates or closing campuses again after briefly reopening them in recent weeks.

NYT: Will Workers Feel Safe Enough to RTO?

Employee experience is about making employees comfortable enough to show up and be productive at work. Anxious employees are less productive, and also prone to leaving you for a company with a better employee experience. 

As a recent New York Times article says: “The big question is not so much ‘Can we keep workers safe in our buildings?’ but ‘Will workers feel comfortable enough coming back, even if good controls are in place?’” The time to focus on employee experience is now. Don’t focus on where work happens but on supporting your people. 

Inc Magazine: CEO Explains How to Engage Employees Wherever They Work

A recent article in Inc magazine, written by Front (software company) CEO Mathilde Collin, echoed Robin’s mantra: “when it comes to work, stop focusing on the place, focus on the people.”  Collin explains three key drivers for keeping employees engaged and productive wherever they work:

(1)  Make sure they’re “contributing to a worthwhile mission.” While the physical office helps employees understand how their work fits into a larger mission, purpose can be also be communicated in remote work and hybrid work models.

(2) Make sure “they feel a genuine sense of belonging with a group of peers.” Again, building trust and a sense of belonging can be easier in the office, but can be done in remote and hybrid work settings too.

(3) Make sure “they have a great manager who's looking after them.” Checking in on someone regularly and in-person may be easier in the office, but regular check-ins should be part of remote and hybrid work. 

Fast Company: Are you ready to deliver a location-agnostic employee experience?

Building a great employee experience is essential for supporting your employees in location-agnostic ways, says this must-read Fast Company article. “Technologies that ‘solve’ employees’ problems, but that are slow, hard to use, or don’t work undermine [experience],” says the author, and can promote employee turnover.

Collaboration tools have become crucial during the pandemic and must extend well beyond Zoom and Slack. For example, “investments in conference room technologies [like Robin] must drive hybrid work experiences,” says the author, “making it easy for ‘anywhere workers’ to flexibly” access the office.

Robin: Workplace Tech Stack is Key for Driving Employee Experience

In a recent Robin blog post, my colleague Sabrina Dorronsoro defines a workplace tech stack as “a set of technologies that work in tandem to enable a better workplace experience for your teams.”

Sabrina explains that the technology in your workplace stack should cover:

  • Collaboration: Think Asana and Trello.
  • Office Management: Think Robin.
  • Communication: Think Slack and Microsoft Teams.
  • File Sharing: Think Google Drive and Dropbox.

The post concludes with a critical insight: “Workplaces aren’t exclusively physical locations anymore. They are fluid, they exist across a range of touchpoints and they are evolving by the minute.” 

So must your workplace tech stack.

Thank you for reading, and see you again in two weeks. Meanwhile, continue to do hanumanasana pose (the splits) -- we’ve all got to stay flexible!




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