HR Leaders Discuss the Post-Pandemic Return to the Office

Four takeaways on how HR leaders are helping their organizations transition back to the office at Profile’s June 30 roundtable event

Chief human resources officers and other high-level HR leaders joined Profile magazine on June 30 for its latest roundtable in the Tomorrow’s Workforce series.

Group 360 Consulting President and CEO Raheela Anwar led the discussion, which touched on how organizations are transitioning back to the office post-pandemic. Anwar has more than twenty-five years of experience in executive outplacement and financial services with expertise in building and leading diverse teams, executive compensation, and more.

Screenshot of HR leaders at the Profile CHRO Roundtable

Here are four key takeaways from the night’s conversation.

1. Lots of Voluntary Transition

Anwar noted that in the current working environment she is seeing more “voluntary transition” than she’s seen in the past eighteen to twenty-four months. More and more employees and clients are choosing the actual physical way in which they want to work.

“People are choosing in-person at a much, much higher rate than any time since last February or March, and they’re doing the same thing with how they’re choosing to work,” she said.

2. Preferences Among Different Groups

Not all employees feel the same about returning to the office. Anwar pointed to distinct categories of workers: leaders, individual contributors, people who are new to the organization, and longer tenured workers who have been with the company for more than twenty-four months. She noted that older leaders, who are categorized as age forty and older, want to return to the office physically.

“Not just themselves, but they want their teams in as well,” she said.

3. Flexibility for the Right Candidates

Companies are willing to negotiate location and working from home for the right candidates. For example, if a company is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Anwar said, they’ll allow the right candidate to work from home out of whichever city they’re based in and will just be required to fly into the office for the important stuff.

“It’s more like, ‘Okay, be in for a week, be in for all the board meetings, but you don’t have to be here. You don’t have to buy a house and relocate your family,’” Anwar said. “And so that’s been interesting.”

4. There Will Always Be Interaction

The way Anwar sees it, people will find a way to interact with each other no matter what. She noted that she was able to interact successfully and safely with her teams and clients throughout the pandemic.

“I wasn’t like unmasked going in, sitting in people’s living rooms, but I was going to find a way to wear three sweaters and have a shawl in my lap, even in Chicago evenings,” she said. “And I found that with a lot of people.”

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