- Current plans call for a return in January, 2022
- The fast-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19 could lead to new restrictions
From reopening cities to reappearing hot spots, we’re all living with uncertainty when it comes to, well, everything. But one thing that’s on everyone’s mind is, when—and how—will we return to the office? We sat down with Chief People Officer Gunjan Aggarwal for an update.
Where are we now?
“Our plan is to reopen fully in January, 2022. But there’s a long way to go between now and then. So in the interim, we are experimenting – trying out a few things to see what are the safest and most effective ways of working that we can bring to our workplaces. Right now we have launched a pilot in our Belmont office with our Product and Engineering team. We asked our employees if they would like to participate in the pilot in Belmont, which we are calling ‘Voluntary RTO’. We asked employees to be vaccinated and show proof of certification to participate in the pilot. Just contemplating the logistics is tougher than you think. Should people have assigned desks? How far apart? What’s happening with the Delta variant? What additional measures can we put in place to keep everyone safe? There’s a lot to do, but RingCentral’s culture of piloting and experimenting gives us the air cover to learn in real-time.”
What are our employees saying?
We sampled our Product & Engineering team in Belmont and not surprisingly a small percentage of the population, around 12% want to be fully remote, and about 11% want to be fully in-office. The vast majority favored something in the middle – what we call ‘dynamic working’. Obviously, the ultimate decision on how to best organize and where to work should be made at a team level, but as far as employee preference is concerned, we see a majority of employees looking to return to office at least a few days a week.
What happens next?
“There are a lot of moving parts: “Where will we sit? What equipment will we use? Is my office going away?” All of which is why I think it’s so important that we use this time to actually include our employees, and really use their feedback and input in making decisions. We’ve seen other companies set policies without taking their employees’ input into account, and they’ve had to double back…it’s caused unnecessary confusion and heartburn. By going slowly, keeping a careful eye on the Delta variant and really listening to our people, we’re hoping to avoid those mistakes, and above all, stay healthy and productive.”
What does the future of work look like?
We feel the future of work will be “Dynamic”. The level of Dynamic work the world was thrown into this past year was a watershed moment and we are learning just like others. But luckily for us, we’re literally in the business of enabling people to work anywhere so we have been unafraid to experiment with new ways of working. We have tools that enable us to power human connections and explore new possibilities in working in a dynamic work mode. We are building options in our platform and in our culture to find ways to ensure our employees feel engaged and involved whether they are remote or on-site. We recommend many of the same practices to our customers so they can in turn take care of their employees. Right this very moment, there are many unknowns and the health concerns are real – What can we expect day-to-day with virus surges? How do we feed people safely? Do we reserve desks? Conference rooms? What about mental health? There are a lot of unknowns. But by constantly communicating with our employees, and gathering data, we think we’re taking the most intelligent approach. As far as the future goes, I do see the Dynamic model taking shape to at least some degree. I think we get a lot of energy and inspiration from being around one another, but between the safety issues and the benefits of spending more time with our families, I think we – and a lot of companies – will be in a dynamic work mode going forward. The future of work is different. And we’re ready for that. We’re built for that.”