We recently had experts join us for an informative discussion on how company culture will shape re-opening of offices, how office space will be re-defined, as well as the future of work and the role the office will play.

The webinar was titled Return to Office: Planning and Perspectives and featured Chris Siegfried, CFO, Armanino (Top 20 Accounting/CPA/Consulting firm), Ted Weitzel, CFO/Controller and Operations guru, Jenn McCabe, Partner, Business Outsourcing, Armanino, and Max Chopovsky, Managing Principal of MCCS Realty, and Founder of the Future of Work podcast.

If you missed it, we have covered some of the top highlights below.

Top 6 Takeaways for Returning to Work from Our Panelists

1) When will RTO begin for your organization?

According to our panelists, this is a largely geographic question. The reason return to office (RTO) is so timely because there is still uncertainty. As business owners, they don’t like uncertainty. The rules change day-to-day. This is a huge shift on how we will approach work, and some of these approaches will stay long after the pandemic is over.

We polled our webinar attendees to determine when their organizations were planning to return to the office. 44% stated Q3 of 2021. Here’s the full distribution of their responses:

2) Changing Roles for the Finance Team and Beyond

The roles in the back office have changed.

As far as the accounting function goes, there day-to-day work has not changed, but how they deal with vendors who have been hit from this pandemic has changed. The accounting team has had to change their prospective on who to pay and how to pay.

The finance department is one of the biggest departments that got hit. It is now huge macro-economic factors that the finance department has to plan for. These factors can change monthly. Learn more in our article Six Key Metrics to Track as You Pivot from Lockdown to Recovery (Part 1).

The IT staff is used to making sure everything worked and secured at the office, but now they are doing it for more micro-offices. CEOs are now asking themselves if they need IT or help desks anymore.

Now, company’s office staff. Many companies have laid off their office staff since going remote. It is now the CEO or HR going into the office to get the mail or taking the random phone calls. But then, some companies have effectively used their office staff as support. 

3) Return to Office Models: Hybrid/Remote/RTO

We polled our attendees to what their organization is planning as far as the model of returning to work. The overwhelming majority, 92%, is planning for a hybrid return to work model.

A few considerations that will be thought about when considering RTO model are age based, geographic based, role of people, and gender based.

Based on these two surveys, the hybrid answer is a quick answer. There has been time to try different models of work. There are also challenges to a hybrid work style. One of the challenging is that it creates two classes of people: one class is people in the office and the other class is people at home. Just take a look at the educational system right now.

In the transition to a hybrid model, managers need to understand what it means to lead when this imbalance is present. Managers who are co-located with their employees have more information about what and how those employees are doing. Managers who are remote from their employees may feel like they’re operating in the dark.

Get tips for managing a hybrid workforce in the following resources:

Building a Hybrid Work Environment for the Return to Work

Building a Seamless Hybrid Work Environment

4) HR Considerations

Clients want policies. There are handbooks for evergreen policies and temporary policies. Some questions asked are “can I require vaccines? How do I ask them to prove it? Are you going to make accommodations for people not vaccinated?” These questions are state by state, company by company. That is the number one thing.

The number two thing is employers want their employees back. The people in leadership understand the value of having their teams together in the office.

5) Future of Work

“Can we break our lease? Will the landlord forgive rent?” No one had the answer a year ago, and people are still making things up.

The Future of Work Podcast is a series of panels with CEOs, investors, architects, and more talking about the relationship with work and how it is going to change going forward.

No size fits all, and the answers to this are going to be different for everyone. The best companies are surveying their employees to see what best fits them.

The days of getting into a conference room are over. The days of having to be face-to-face to raise capital are over. In 2020, companies raised 120 billion dollars in capital.

Some perspectives:

  • People went remote quickly, which led to realizing that the technology worked.
  • Protectivity went up from no commute, but then it went down because people crave interaction.
  • The office became a place to collaborate and interact, instead of working. The design of the office has to change.
  • Companies are starting to invest in their employees now.
  • Buildings could see property tax heights.

We polled our attendees on their plans for their office space in 2021 and beyond. 36% stated that their office space footprint would stay the same, while 29% said they would reduce their space.

6) Executives Focus

The last takeaway from our panelists is that the C-suite and boards need to focus on the more strategic information to adapt to the next long term normal. They need to think about the 4 W’s: who, what, where, and when.

Want the Full Webcast to Learn More?

As corporate America plans to “Return to Office” (RTO), Controllers and Corporate Finance must not only participate, but take leading roles. Watch this webinar to learn how company culture will shape re-opening of offices, how office space will be re-defined, as well as the future of work and the role the office will play. Click here to watch now.

Don’t miss out on any of our upcoming events! View upcoming webinars and recordings of past webinars on our events page: https://controllerscouncil.org/events

Virtual Roundtable: Controlling Employee Expenses with a Small but Mighty TeamWebinar Tuesday, September 28

Join the Controllers Council as Ram Bartov, Corporate Controller of TripActions (formerly Corporate Controller at Snowflake), reveals how small but high-performing finance teams today are embracing automated expense management technology to gain a better line of sight, control, and real-time reporting. Ram will moderate a “virtual roundtable” of Controllers and CFOs to be announced.