Press Releases

STAMFORD, Conn., June 18, 2020

Gartner Identifies Six Health and Safety Factors Customer Service and Support Leaders Must Consider When Planning the Return to the Office

Service and Support Leaders Must Prioritize Employee Well-Being in Preparation for Post COVID-19 Operations

As governments start to lift stay at home orders, Gartner, Inc. has identified six health and safety factors service and support leaders must consider when employees return to the office. Employees must be confident that their well-being is prioritized when facilities are reopened, and staff are moved back to the office or current on-site staff capacity is increased.

A recent Gartner, Inc. survey found that social or physical distancing arrangements was the top workplace standard to have in place when employees return to the office, followed by adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and safe work playbook (or equivalent) (see Figure 1).

“Service and support leaders planning to return employees on-site have a host of factors to consider before doing so,” said Deborah Alvord, senior director analyst in the Gartner Customer Service and Support Practice. “These range from assessing current office conditions, implementing social distancing guidelines and potential facility upgrades. A successful return to work program will alleviate staff fears and concerns, and ease the transition of going back to the workplace.”

Figure 1: Return to Workplace Standards

Gartner recommends that service and support leaders consider the following factors in their return to work program.

1.     Current office conditions: Review each area of the office, such as the break room, meeting space, rep workspace, collaboration space, restrooms and dining area to identify where changes need to be made to adjust for social distancing and proper hygiene requirements.

2.     Employee hygiene modification: Distribute hygiene guidelines to employees and provide training to employees returning to the office on hygiene modifications that must be followed.

3.     Social distancing modification: Understanding the impact of new social distancing guidelines on office space is essential for informing employees’ return to work strategies. Assess whether social distancing guidelines will reduce maximum office capacity and evaluate the portion of staff that may have to continue working remotely.

4.     Facility requirements and adjustments: Conduct a thorough assessment of the work environment and make needed adjustments. Organizations who do not own their facilities should partner with the property owner to assess the environment and develop a plan.

5.     Return to work criteria: Create a list of criteria using state, local and federal HR and health guidelines to identify those employees that are eligible for return to the office and those that are at higher risk. Take into consideration employees who volunteer to return to the office, employees who live closest to the office and wouldn't have to take public transportation and high-risk groups.

6.     Communication and management changes: Ensure communications regarding return to the office are sent weeks in advance of implementation to allow employees to make accommodations and adjust. This should include the changes made to the office to prioritize employee health and well-being, along with how reintroduction of staff to the office will occur.

“While assessing the success of a return to work program, service leaders should also gather continuous employee feedback,” said John Quaglietta, senior director analyst in the Gartner Customer Service and Support Practice. “This helps identify gaps in the current policies, provides an opportunity for organizations to address concerns directly, and should be used to adjust the return to work phases.”

Additional information is available to Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders clients in the report "Tool: Guide to Preparing Your Office for the Return of Employees After COVID-19” and "How Service Leaders Are Responding to COVID-19 — Part 6."

Learn more about how to lead organizations through the disruption of coronavirus in the Gartner coronavirus resource center, a collection of complementary Gartner research and webinars to help organizations respond, manage, and prepare for the rapid spread and global impact of COVID-19.

About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders

The customer service and support function is vital to maintaining customer loyalty and influencing brand perceptions. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve service and support leaders’ mission-critical priorities, specifically improving the customer experience while managing costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to design an optimal service channel strategy; measure and reduce customer effort; and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

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