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An Agilist Guide To The Return To Office

61% of employees prefer being fully remote
-5 Statistics Employers Need To Know About The Remote Workforce, Forbes,2021


While many companies had adopted remote work policies or hybrid work models long ago, many more were faced with the new challenge of defining work outside of of the office in 2020 as COVID-19 pushed people to trade their corporate offices for their home office as their primary work location.

We are not going back

Fast forward to today and employees are expressing an ongoing need for more flexibility as part of their company's return to office policies to provide a more meaningful balance between work and life that allows teammates to address concerns with physical and mental health, child and elderly care, and financial security. Made even more apparent by the "great resignation" of 2021 as hundreds of thousands of people leave their current job in for companies that are providing incentives like unlimited vacation, closer or smaller satellite offices, or a completely remote environment.

In other words, we aren’t going back to the way things were before.

For hundreds of companies, including Twitter, Ford, and Adobe, the decision has already been made to permanently include remote work options for their teams. For others the decision has met resistance and even public debate as the role of remote employees in the workforce is being thrust into the spotlight. As questions of office culture and customer and supply chain needs, are balanced against recommendations on how to keep communities healthy

Remain Flexible With Your Definitions

"In 2021, HubSpot will drop the 'ish' in 'remote-ish.' We’re going to shift to a hybrid remote-office model where career growth is equitable for everyone, whether you do your best work in an office or in a home office. It’s the right thing to do for our employees and candidates, and for growing a company we’re proud of long-term,"

Katie Burke, Hubspot Chief People Officer
https://www.hubspot.com/careers-blog/future-of-work-hybrid


The need for flexibility is built into the agile process and the adjustment to remote work or hybrid models as permanent options for teams introduces the paradox of needing structure for the wide range needs for remote workers maintain productivity. Teams will have to find away to accommodate new requests for managing the number of working days per week, establishing office hours, and even adjusting vacation time while developing policies around hybrid and remote work models.  


When days or weeks seem chaotic, systems and agreements can add some much-needed clarity. For example, if you have a hybrid team where some team members are office workers while others are in a remote work environment, treat everyone as if they are remote. That's right - everyone joins as if they are remote (not just those away from the office) to ensure access to information is equitable regardless of if you're in a shared office space.

We go into multiple strategies on how to create working agreements and remote team systems in Chapter 8 of the Ultimate Guide To Agile Retrospectives. Read more here.

Protect mental and physical health

Meeting fatigue, isolation, and global unrest has contributed to what many are calling a national mental health and well-being pandemic occurring alongside COVID-19. Protecting person-to-person collaboration needs to remain a priority.

A great way for agile teams to check in on the health of its members is to regularly run a team happiness radar retrospective, and mental health retrospectives to give people a chance to analyze not the work, but how to make the team a healthy workplace.

Use tools to make meetings easier

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many teams went into fix-it mode to try and find the easiest way to translate the in-person meetings, cultural events, and day-to-day operations that occurred when everyone was in the same primary work location. What was once sticky-notes and whiteboards, became shared docs and extra meetings.

Using tools specifically designed to help teams both in-office and, remote, and any variation of hybrid that has been announced, is one of the best ways to make your return to office or established remote work plans successful. 

Look for tools that were designed to help your team meet your team’s needs, while encouraging the open collaboration, flexibility, and innovation needed to return to business successfully.

Retrium's Remote Story

How do we know so much about remote teams? Retrium has been 100% remote since its inception in 2015. Through our experiences and those of other remote teams we've worked with over the years, we've created a product and resources for teams that want to have an awesome retrospective experience no matter where its participants are around the world. 

Read more about our experience, and see exactly how we help teams below.

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