Insight Paper

Return to Office, Part Two: Lead into a New Era with Flexibility and Intentionality

November 2021

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) needs are crucial in considerations for returning to the office, as highlighted in this series’ first paper: Return to the Office Part One: Guidance for Creating an Inclusive Come-Back Strategy. This second paper will focus on solutions and recommendations to mitigate the impact on underrepresented talent in the workplace and also tackle several operating issues employers need to consider when creating return to the office plans. These include:

  • Business case: How to make a convincing case to leadership that flexibility when possible is crucial and returning to “the way things were” may not be an option.
  • Leadership accountability: Detailing leadership’s role in creating an inclusive and flexible office culture that can survive remote working. Encouraging and supporting employee connection is one of the most valuable tools on which companies that are creating a hybrid workplace can focus.
  • Holistic strategy: Creating a workplace ecosystem rather than a monolith that encourages a human-first culture, including flexibility and relationship-building in a new workplace landscape.
  • Manager skillset: Developing managers in essential soft skills, such as empathy and building psychological safety women, and especially women of color. Also, how to equip managers to mitigate silos to keep inclusion at the forefront of collaboration, and how to avoid biases based on who is in the office and who may be working remotely.
  • Compliance: Vaccination mandates, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on safely returning to the office.


Note: The data reported in this paper is relevant as of the time of publication. This is a fluid situation and regular check-ins with employees and national data/CDC requirements are recommended.

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