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Enabling a Return to Office Plan with OCM and UX Principles

The push for a “return to office plan” has been front and center for a while now as companies attempt to entice their workers back to physical offices for a multitude of reasons.  Let’s look at this through a special lens: for a new hire who has never worked in a physical office before.  We’ll look at this through two perspectives – organizational change management and user experience. 

What is Organizational Change Management? 

Organizational change management (or OCM for short) is defined as “the practice of applying a structured approach to the transition of an organization from a current state to a future state to achieve expected benefits.”   

In other words, OCM is occupied with helping folks move from a current way of doing things to the desired new state or way of doing things, and that involves a timeline of transitions that people must go through to enter the future state successfully.   

Download the Return to Office Concept: OCM and UX eBook Here

For OCM practitioners, we know that it will take time for people to make their way from the current state to a future state and that they’ll probably experience a range of emotions as they do so. Some folks will progress quickly; some will take a bit longer; some will progress then take a few steps back, and then a few steps forward again. Some may go through a form of grieving, especially in cases where a change in role or responsibilities means the loss of a span of control or status or needing to start all over again in building a network of peers. Some people may never make a complete transition to the new state, preferring instead to find work elsewhere.   

The first step in change management is understanding the destination and having a set of steps or processes that pave a path to get there.  A concurrent step, just as important, is transition management — in other words, convincing those same people to leave home for that new destination.

What is UX? 

UX (user experience) is how a person experiences a specific product, system, or service in the here and now, with no expectations of a timeline for psychological adjustment. Is it a good experience now? A good user experience just feels right and natural. Sadly, user experience when done well can easily go unnoticed.  It doesn’t confuse, frustrate, or annoy the end user, and the pleasant natural feeling is “as it should be.”  If it’s done exceedingly well, the end user is delighted. If not, the user will abandon it if at all possible or struggle through.   

Download the Return to Office Concept: OCM and UX eBook Here

A great illustration of this type of frustrating user experience is the Norman Door. Named after (but not by) Don Norman, the well-known design researcher and the author of “The Design of Everyday Things,” a Norman door is one that’s confusing or ambiguous in its use.       

How Do OCM and UX Work Together? 

To clarify, OCM is involved with those transitions that are deep and far-reaching. People can get anxious, resentful, and struggle with coping tactics. They can lose confidence in themselves as their self-doubt gets triggered. Teamwork may decline or take less precedence as people go into protective mode, and loyalty to the organization could be seriously undermined.  

While UX isn’t directly involved in these areas, having complicated and confusing systems, processes, and products can exacerbate the anxieties and struggles associated with the change. William Bridges, the renowned author of “Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change,” says, “change is situational: the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal.”  

Return to Office Plan

To continue reading about exploring the concept of a “Return to Office Plan” from both an Organizational Change Management and User Experience Approach, click below to download the free eBook.

Download the Return to Office Concept: OCM and UX eBook Here

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Contributions from Eileen George

Tags: Change Management, User Experience