Engagement, Data Gathering, & Design Research for Return to Work Plans


The world is living through unprecedented times since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and this has affected how every single business is operating. We have already seen and experienced the changes made in stores and restaurants to ensure the safety of staff and patrons, but what about those working in an office environment? Are they ready to return and how can employers make sure their staff feels comfortable returning?

No matter what type of office, serious changes and preparations need to be made for employees to return to work. Companies must look at ways that can revitalize their space and organization as a whole when they are looking at the options for bringing employees back. Communication plays a big role in this process.

There is no better time for companies to tap into their most valuable resource – their employees - and hear what they have to say and feel about returning to the office. Sam Julka, founder and president of DORIS Research, helps companies conduct research through customized and targeted methods to gather data. Julka calls this the “Designerly” method which helps produce clever, fun, thought-provoking and engaging interviews and surveys, which in turn helps gather the best possible data for making decisions.

Employees always like the chance to give their input since everyone has different personal situations they may be handling. Companies must understand their employees’ readiness to return and meld it with change management to effectively bring their staff back. A good strategy, as described by Verna Shavlik, Director of Design Services at Creative Business Interiors, includes several steps:

Define what and how engagement will occur: Create the Big Message. Does this mean bring back groups, all at once, part virtual, etc

Discover what needs to change within physical environments: Take the pulse of your employees through targeted surveys and open communication.

Develop solutions that will support the changes that need to happen: Assess the data, develop a plan, and deliver the message

Implement the need to make changes: Support and make the move toward the changes to help your office remain safe and healthy.

Evaluate your process: There are regular updated reports and rules regarding public health and safety regarding COVID-19. Review current conditions and employee concerns and marry the data with the process to make sure all concerns are addressed.

The COVID-19 pandemic can be a catalyst for positive change throughout your organization; communication, evaluation, and constant assessment are key. Making a project change team and sharing your organization’s vision for the future will help your employees feel they are a part of the process. All change readiness is interconnected – a new workspace can define culture, infuse interaction, and help develop different behaviors among staff. This should make employees feel safe and stay healthy when it is time to return to the office.

Learn more and watch our two-part webinar: Pathway to Choice: Engagement - Data Gathering with DORIS Research and Pathway to Choice: Engagement Revitalization