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Return-to-the-Workplace Playbook

Anticipate and plan to bring employees back onsite.

  • There are currently multiple vaccines for COVID-19, but uptake around the world varies. Balancing the protection of employees in a workplace with employees’ privacy and rights poses an issue.
  • Organizations need to put protocols in place to ensure the health and safety of anyone accessing the workplace and to prevent outbreaks. Protocols require organizations to assess and modify current operations and workplace layouts.
  • Organizations operating in different regions may have different federal and local public health restrictions and COVID-19 guidelines and be in different stages of the pandemic.
  • This disruption may be greater or lesser across work units within an organization, requiring different work units to operate in different ways or at different times.

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  • Get advice, coaching, and insight at key project milestones
  • Go through a Guided Implementation to help you get through your project

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Workplace changes spurred by the realities of COVID-19 have been so seismic it is highly unlikely things will go back to the way they were before.

Impact and Result

  • Review key factors and determine how to bring employees back to the workplace, prioritizing first by work units and then by employee segments.
  • Maintain awareness of public health requirements and legislation when designing return-to-the-workplace protocols, including actions to address employee-specific challenges.
  • Finally, create a plan with key triggers and be prepared to iterate.

Return-to-the-Workplace Playbook Research & Tools

1. Identify and prioritize work units and employee segments

Analyze, identify, and prioritize work units and employee segments to return to the workplace.

2. Build the return-to-the-workplace plan

Update and tailor workplace protocols and finalize the return-to-the-workplace approach.

3. Prepare to support employees through the transition

Create a detailed return-to-the-workplace plan and communications and monitor the success of the plan.

Return-to-the-Workplace Playbook preview picture

About McLean & Company

McLean & Company is an HR research and advisory firm providing practical solutions to human resources challenges via executable research, tools, diagnostics, and advisory services that have a clear and measurable impact on your business.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your HR problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

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Speak With An Analyst

Get the help you need in this 3-phase advisory process. You'll receive 6 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation 1: Identify and prioritize work units and employee segments
  • Call 1: Determine the work units and assess their current state.
  • Call 2: Decide how to best assess employee sentiment on returning to the workplace and if a work-from-home program is needed.

Guided Implementation 2: Build the return-to-the-workplace plan
  • Call 1: Determine your approach for returning employees to the workplace.
  • Call 2: Determine how COVID-19 protocols and organizational policies and programs will be tailored.

Guided Implementation 3: Prepare to support employees through the transition
  • Call 1: Create an action plan for returning to the workplace.
  • Call 2: Review everyone’s role in communicating the plan.


  • Valarie Dillon, Executive Director, Business Services, Scouts Canada
  • Scott Farley, General Manager, Human Resources, Komatsu America Corp
  • You Mon Tsing, CEO, ChurnZero