LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After months of working remotely and offices sitting empty, getting back to the office in-person is not so easy. So a researcher at the University of Louisville created a roadmap for people to return to the office as concerns about COVID-19 subside.

Dr. Brad Shuck, an inventor and associate professor, calls his four-step plan the "RISE Reintegration Model."

He said before bringing employees back, companies need to consider how their offices will be different than they were before the pandemic shutdown.

"This is all about resetting expectations about how work gets done, not just how much work gets done," Shuck said. "So resetting physically, resetting mentally and resetting emotionally."

The plan consists of four "Rs," which Shuck terms as "Reset," "Restart," "Recalibrate" and "Reinvent."

  • Reset: Shuck says this step should begin 2-3 months before bringing employees back. It involves companies considering how their offices will be different than they were before the pandemic shutdown.
  • Restart: Occurs 1-2 months after companies resume in-person work. Companies should emphasize short-term goals, building a sense of momentum, value and direction, as they allow employees to reacclimate to an office environment.
  • Recalibrate: Begins 2-4 months after companies reopen. Companies focus on adjusting business strategy for new information, emerging market norms and a dynamic operating landscape dramatically changed by the global pandemic.
  • Reinvent: This phase occurs 4-8 months after bringing employees back, and then every six months for the next three years. Involves taking lessons learned during the pandemic and integrating them into the company's operations. For example, a company might see that employees can work from home effectively, which may lead to giving them more flexibility in office hours. 

Shuck works with several companies and organizations locally and around the world but can't release their names because of confidentiality agreements. He said while some have started bring people back to the office already, "Most are planning for a July 1st or Fall re-integration or re-entry," he said in a statement.

"Employee reintegration is coming as it becomes safer to do so. But from an organizational standpoint, that's easier said than done. That's why it's important for companies to think through these factors and develop a proactive, intentional plan."

He also said companies and employees sometimes don't realize how much time it can take to reset.

"They are just returning to work," Shuck said. "They have a week before and they are finding out they are going to return to work, and this does not give employees enough time to take in everything is going to change for me."  

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