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What's the Rush to Return to the Office?

This was originally published on LinkedIn.

Back in early March, I asked all Fuze employees to work from home before any sort of official government shutdown. 

Now I believe that in order to take a leadership stance on returning to the workplace, we must be intentional laggards. This is rare for a tech company CEO to say, but I think it is important. I recently asked all Fuze employees globally to continue working from home until September— at which time we will re-evaluate. I’d encourage other CEOs in a position to do so to please consider keeping your workers at home as well.

While this may not be ideal for some of you who miss being in the office (including me), I feel that being an “intentional laggard” in returning to offices will not only help employee safety, but will ensure we are being thoughtful about our communities’ safety. As we know, many businesses simply do not have the ability to conduct any type of work remotely and a return to physical work space is imperative for them to survive. But those industries that have the privilege of being able to be productive while operating remotely can continue to support social distancing through remote work. By maintaining our work from home recommendations, we are allowing more space for other industries and workers to return to work safely. This will assist in re-charging the economy, while also not putting additional undo burdens immediately on transportation systems, hospitals, etc.

I am confident in saying that work will look different in the future. There are already questions being raised about the density of office space and what will be necessary. But there are other factors to consider: how will people get to work safely using public transportation? If you are in a large office building, what will elevator traffic look like? So much is unknown. 

There is no substitution for being face-to-face, but the technology we have access to through the Fuze platform allows us to feel like we are together. We’ve also implemented a few best practices to help our teams stay connected and engaged over the past eight weeks. Here are some programs we’ve put into motion at Fuze:

  • Regular ask-me-anything sessions: Initially these video meetings were started to create a channel for open communication and transparency from the executive team to the whole company. Since then, we’ve hosted more than 20 AMAs with a variety of Fuzers providing updates on their major projects, cross-functional initiatives, or training for the company. We try to hold meetings at times that work for our teams across the US, Europe, and Asia-Pac and we’ve seen really great engagement for the program overall. There are another 10+ scheduled through June. 

  • New community get-togethers: We’ve experimented with several different virtual events such as wine tasting, yoga classes (I tried one), baking club, and trivia night to see what works best for our team and culture. Work with HR and encourage your people to suggest what they’d be most interested in to stay personally connected to their colleagues. 

  • Flexible schedules and hours: I first wrote about flexible schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic in March, and everything that was true then still applies now. We know that many schools and summer camps are canceled through September, and we understand that our employees need to have some certainty around managing other responsibilities that are outside of the norm during this time. We need to remember to be open, flexible, and empathetic to one another. Encourage your managers to embrace flexible work schedules so your people can continue to be their best at home and for work. 

Be safe and stay healthy.

Brian Day

Brian Day

Brian Day is the CEO of Fuze. 

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