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9 Steps to Implement a New Post-COVID19 Office Environment

Posted By Victor Assad, Victor Assad Strategic HR Consulting, Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Your guidebook to restart your business with the new normal, safely, productively, with high morale for employees, and reduced costs.


Your company sent office workers home in March in a mad scramble to protect them from COVID19 and to keep your business alive. The survival of your workers was at stake. Now, as you plan the reopening of your office, it is clear that the survival of your business is at stake, and the old normal is obsolete.

It is time to be disruptive. It is time to create the new standard for a productive, innovative, less expensive, and safe office environment.

The fears of COVID19 infection will remain at the forefront of everyone’s mind until we have a vaccine, a cure, or until 70 percent of the population has been exposed to the virus. Any of these scenarios maybe six months away, such as for a miracle vaccine, or up to 24 months away for a cure. Vaccines may have to be reconstituted every year for this mutating coronavirus, like the flu vaccine.

It is time to think big. It is time to make the moves now that will propel your business to be number one in your domain during this era. It is time to engage with your most valued asset, your workforce. It is time to provide them with an enabling environment so they may thrive, achieve great results, innovate, feel safe, and feel like trusted members of your organization.

This is not the time for half-measures, happy talk, and incrementalism.

Your business needs to break away from the ineffective, habitual practices of the past with a bold long-term vision to be productive and to keep your workers safe.

The open, crowded office bays of 2019-before COVID19- were unproductive work environments. The average worker was disrupted every three minutes. It took some workers as long as 23 minutes to return to the original task.

One legacy of the COVID19 crisis will be the dramatic increase in remote work.

Before COVID19, remote work was already:

  • preferred by 80% of the workforce, and all ages
  • the No. 1 preferred non-pay work benefit
  • growing more than 11 times faster than the rest of the workforce
  • enabling 43 percent of the workforce to work from home some of the time
  • saving employers $10,000 to $20,000 per remote worker per year by lowering real estate costs, turnover, and absenteeism and increasing employee productivity.[1]
  • saving carbon emissions. Consider this: According to Ladders, Just a 20% reduction in working from an office (one day a week) results in a 30% decrease in a person’s carbon footprint
  • enabling busy US workers in two-parent households, who work 58.5 hours a week between work and family duties, to have more work-life integration, higher job satisfaction, and less costly commutes and stress.[2]

This trend to remote work has already started. Due to COVID19, Brookings estimates that about half of the US workforce is working from home, with most of these people being higher-paid professional workers. About 3 percent of 1,000 HR professionals in the US, surveyed by the Society of Human Resources in April 2020 said their salaried employees were working remotely when the year began. That number rose to 64 percent by April. PwC reports that 49 percent of Chief Financial Officers responding to their March 2020 survey say remote work is work is here to stay for some roles, as companies plan to alternate crews and reconfigure worksites.

How will remote work be in your future?  How bold are you willing to be?

As someone who has directed HR operations for global businesses of at large corporations for over 20 years and has implemented flexible work arrangements, I am offering the benefits of my successful experiences to you so that you can restart your business safely, profitably, and by providing a great and comforting experience to your workforce. My new guidebook, 9 Steps to Implement a New Post-COVID19 Office Environment, will give you valuable information allowing you to guide your own organization

With this guidebook, you will learn this valuable information:

  1. Which jobs, not workers, are ideally suited for home-based work, and which criteria you use in making this determination
  2. Guidelines to keep office workers safe as you bring them back to your new office environment
  3. Which digital technologies to use and the importance of bandwidth strength
  4. Leadership in the Virtual and Collocated World: How to effectively set operating norms for virtual meetings and how to keep employees aligned to your mission and goals.
  5. How to have employees respond, wherever they are, when you need them.
  6. How to digitally store and share essential policies, procedures, files and data.
  7. How to reduce or eliminate excess office space and accumulate huge savings.
  8. How to convert a traditional office space to a flexible work environment where works have the space, tools, and time for great performance
  9. How to make sure these valuable changes drive your top and bottom line and improve your employer brand.

Much of the guidance I will provide you, comes from my experience implementing remote work and flexible work environments, at Medtronic’s offices in Santa Rosa California, and with other Medtronic business across the world.

Following a 30 percent increase in the use of remote workers, the Medtronic businesses based in Santa Rosa experienced significant productivity increases, of up to 22% for remote workers. The employees who would remain residents, coming into the office every day, enjoyed an upgraded office environment with improved videoconferencing capabilities, more conference rooms, huddle rooms, and open areas.

Employees and managers alike reported a 98% satisfaction rate with the implementation of remote work. In addition, management saw substantial reductions in real estate costs, employee turnover, and carbon emissions. Employees who worked from home did not miss their average hour-long commutes. They appreciated having more control over their work life integration and reported more confidence in the leadership of their managers and of top management.

Are you ready to get started?

Click the link below to download my complimentary guidebook today!


Call me at 707-331-6740 to schedule a complimentary one-hour strategy session


[1] Workshifting Benefits: The Bottom Line, May 2010, by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish, Global Workplace Analytics, sponsored by Citrix Online.

[2] Kim Parker and Wendy Wang (March 14, 2013) “Modern Parenthood: Roles of Moms and Dads Converge as They Balance Work and Family.” Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends. Retrieved from


Tags:  Post-COVID19 Office Environment  Remote work  Reopen safely  Telework 

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Brand building strategies for handling the coronavirus recession

Posted By Victor Assad, Victor Assad Strategic HR Consulting, Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Many businesses are now scrambling to implement working-from-home procedures, cutting worker hours, and reducing their workforces, whether temporarily or permanently. Economists are now predicting a short but deep recession, with a drop in US economic output of $1.5 trillion, 7% unemployment, and 5 million Americans out-of-work.

How a company pivots during a crisis significantly impacts its customer engagement, profitability, and employer brand.

Take the example of Southwest after 9/11. Air traffic had dropped dramatically, and most airlines laid off significant numbers of employees.  Southwest was the exception.  Instead of downsizing, it refocused its slack workforce on making process improvements. When the market improved, Southwest did not have to rehire its former workforce or hire new employees --it had a ready, trained, appreciative workforce with the ability to help the company quickly expand into new markets. Its competitors, on the other hand, struggled with staffing, training and operations issues.

Let’s review alternatives to reductions in force.

  • Remote work. Based on my experience and empirical evidence, most companies can have 25% to 45% (and even 100% if it is a software company) of its workforce work remotely. Keeping operations working to serve clients while the competition struggles with the transition may go a long way to building outstanding client relationships and finding new clients. Click here to learn more about setting up a remote work environment that keeps workers focused, productive and feeling part of the team.
  • The Southwest Airlines 9/11 Model. Southwest was able to quickly recover after the travel market rebounded after 9/11 because it reassigned its workforce to making process improvements rather than laying them off. The coronavirus precaution for social distancing will make this strategy more difficult for some companies, but look for areas to reassign teams of employees to make process improvements or reduce work backlogs without violating the social distancing guidelines. Some of this work may be done remotely with the substantial uses of digital technology. Ask your managers and employees for suggestions and how to achieve it.
  • Partial reduction in hours. For some companies in hospitality, travel, oil, and real estate, a reduction in hours can be a strategy to serve the reduced need of customers while hanging on to precious, trained workers and providing them with income for food and housing. Many restaurants facing government orders have closed dine-in eating and switched to a take-out and they are rationing these precious work hours to their staffs. Remember, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the pay of exempt employees cannot be cut in a week when the exempt employee worked part of the week. Another option for exempt employees is to change work hours on a forward-looking basis, at the next pay period, without violating FLSA, as long as the exempt worker reduced pay is more than $684 a week. However, this should be longer than two-weeks and not intermittent. Before taking this step, remember to also check with state and local laws, which may have more restrictions.
  • Temporary layoffs—keep employees on healthcare benefits. If your business does need a furlough due to mandatory government shutdowns or a total collapse in your industry, I encourage you to follow the example of the Minneapolis Convention Center, which had to comply with the governor’s order to close. It laid-off its workers, encouraged them to file for unemployment, and kept them on full health care benefits. This thoughtful action is allowed under some health care benefit plans. Be sure to check with your health care provider. It is also permitted under Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which also requires the option for laid-off workers and dependents to continue health care benefits in the event of a permanent reduction in force. Also, look into allowing employees to take vacation time, paid time off, and sick time during such periods.

If a reduction in force is necessary, remember these guidelines of The Worker Adjustment and Retraining notification (WARN) Act:

  • Employers must provide written notice at least 60 calendar days in advance of covered plant closings and mass layoffs. A WARN notice is required when a business with 100 or more full-time workers (not counting workers who have less than six months on the job and workers who work fewer than 20 hours per week) is laying off at least 50 people at a single site of employment. Or the business employs 100 or more workers who work at least a combined 4,000 hours per week, and is a private for-profit business, a private non-profit organization, or quasi-public entity separately organized from regular government. This warning is also required for employees who are terminated or laid off for more than six months or who have their hours reduced 50% or more in any six-month period as a result of the plant closing or mass layoff. Pay may be offered in lieu of notice.
  • Less than six-month exception: Note If the layoff is for less than six months, the WARN Act is not triggered.
  • WARN Act “Unforeseeable Business Exception. There is also an “unforeseeable business exception” in the WARN Act. It is not clear if the circumstances around the Coronavirus will trigger the WARN Act, especially if the reduction in force will be for less than six months and if regulators consider the Coronavirus an unforeseen event.

The coronavirus presents the US a national crisis that requires putting the public interest and safety first, including the safety of your clients, suppliers, and employees. As a business, how you react during this crisis will greatly determine the loyalty of your customers and employees.

Watch my social media posts, blogs, and podcasts for future updates.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting  and managing partner of InnovationOne. He works with companies to improve their recruiting, HR operations, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and cultures of innovation. His new book is Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at 


Tags:  Alternatives to layoffs  Furloughs  Remote work 

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7 Steps to Implement Remote Work

Posted By Victor Assad, Victor Assad Strategic HR Consulting, Tuesday, January 7, 2020

An executive team asked me about the company’s need to cut overhead costs and invest more money in R&D. “Why not switch to a flexible work environment?” I suggested. Many companies find that  25 percent to 45 percent of the workforce could work at home three to four days a week. In addition, companies discover they can save up to $11k per remote worker with a redesigned office space and with the productivity gains from home office workers. That will free up a lot of dollars to invest in R&D!

Besides, working from home is the No. 1 desired non-pay benefit of workers of all ages and men and women, and it improves employee morale, recruiting, and retention.[i]

Working from home is a growing trend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), remote work increased 115% from 2005 to 2015. Currently, 16% of the workforce — 26 million Americans — work remotely at least part of the time.

Here’s what you need to do to assure your company’s success with telework:

  1. Make it job-specific. Recognize from the beginning that telework is not for every worker. Telework is based on the requirements of the job and the team. If a worker must be present to do a manufacturing job, be in a research lab to use its equipment, have access to data they can only access at the office (say, for security reasons), or need to be available for frequent face-to-face meetings and interactions, they must be physically at the office. If, on the other hand, most of their work is accomplished on the computer and most communications can be done over the phone, email, text, or videoconference, they can usually work from home, or at customers’ or suppliers’ sites three-to-four day a week.
  2. Continually communicate expectations and norms. Telework requires that leaders do what they should have been doing all along: provide workers with clarity about the company’s business strategies, goals, and the standards for excellence. Managers also need to provide clarity on expected operating norms, such as how quickly to respond to others, which meetings will be face-to-face vs. digital, and where commonly used documents will be stored online.
  3. Update your digital technology. Companies with multiple locations and home office workers need to use excellent video conferencing, collaboration, and data-storage technology. No worker wants to waste time searching for documents or wait minutes for a file to open online. Video conferencing improves teamwork and collaboration as opposed to a phone call.
  4. Certify the remote workplace. Teleworkers need to certify that they have a safe, ergonomically sound, and dedicated workspace at home. That workspace also needs to comply with the company’s security requirements.  Working from a stool at the kitchen counter is not such a space!
  5. Train your managers and employees. We have found that companies can make this transition quickly and smoothly after training and answering the questions from managers and employees. It is not as easy as saying, “take your computer and start working from home!”
  6. Manage by trust and accountabilitynot compliance. Organizations with leaders who inspire their workers to achieve a higher purpose and emphasize collaboration, trust, and results are more productive and innovative.
  7. Redesign your office for those who will come in to work every day. The ubiquitous open office environment isn’t the answer for office-based employees! Open office environments commonly lead to distracted, irritated, unproductive workers.[ii] Teleworkers no longer need to have a dedicated cube or patch of floor space when they are working from home or the customers’ site three-to-four days a week.  When they come into the office, it will usually be for meetings.

For many organizations, the best workspace design calls for more collaborative space for impromptu meetings, where the discussion won’t disturb others. Small huddle-rooms often meet that need. Organizations often need more high-quality videoconference rooms for excellent visual transmission and to see the emotions of team members in remote locations. Teams need dedicated rooms that allow teams a shared space to collaborate and access the data they need. Individual team members also need quiet spaces for “head-down” work, which is best done without interruption.

Data shows that redesigned workspaces can lead to significant reductions in real estate costs, even after the initial investment of new technology and furniture.

Are you ready to switch to a flexible work environment? I invite you to join me on Feb. 6 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM at the Arizona Small Business Association, P-Level meeting room, 11811 N Tatum Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85028 in Phoenix! Register today!

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and works with companies to improve their recruiting, HR operations, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and cultures. His new book is Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. You can buy it online at AmazonBarnes and NobleArchway Publishing, and now The SHRMStore. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at

[i] Victor Assad, Hack Recruiting: The Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. Archway Publishing, 2019.

Tags:  Flexible Work Arrangements  Remote Work  Telework  Teleworking 

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