SMEC – Making the return to the office as smooth as possible

Table of Contents

It’s an understatement to suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted workplaces across the world. In early 2020 organisations acted fast to establish remote working arrangements. At the time of writing (early July 2020), restrictions are easing across Australia, and many businesses are planning their return to the office.

This case study describes how SMEC a global specialist engineering, management and development consultancy, leveraged Tribal Habits to develop a ‘Return to the office’ training package to inform employees about the changes that had been made during the pandemic and to allay any concerns or fears about returning to the office.

A top business priority

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold across the country, SMEC responded quickly. The group rapidly established a COVID-19 response team that included the CEO as well as senior executives from most business units and state managers. The proactive decisions and actions made by this team significantly reduced the impact the pandemic had on operations.

As the country began to bring the threat from the virus under control, the SMEC COVID-19 response team started to look at the optimal way to bring employees back into the office.

It was quickly determined that for employees to return to the office successfully, communication lines needed to be clear so that all team members understood the measures the organisation had taken to ensure the office was safe for a return.

A plan was in place

To make the return to the office as smooth as possible, the COVID-19 response team created a detailed plan for each office. Each plan outlined the changes made in the office as a response to the pandemic and the behaviours that were expected when people returned. Also highlighted was how these new measures were to be communicated.

The return to office plan was compiled into a document that all employees were required to review and accept before returning to work in their office

Engaging employees

Rather than sending the return to office information out through a pdf document, SMEC elected to convert its response into interactive training on the Tribal Habits platform. 

This achieved two key goals: 

  1. It moved the information from a passive pdf document into a more engaging, interactive online platform. Increasing the engagement of the employees taking the training as well as improving the absorption of the information communicated. 
  2. Using an online platform meant that the training could easily be distributed to all team members and that completion and acceptance data could quickly be tracked.

A quick turnaround

Using Tribal Habits simple drag and drop editor, SMEC’s Learning and Development team were able to convert the return to office document into engaging online training in under 48 hours. Unlike other learning management systems, the uploading and distribution of the training to employees was done with a click of a button. This meant that the return to office training reached the SMEC team quickly and with no fuss.

Communicating the message

The return-to-office training became a critical part of the CEO’s weekly communications to employees and constituted a vital part of SMEC’s overall COVID-19 communication strategy. Once the importance of this training way conveyed by the CEO, the message was reinforced by functional leaders and office managers to ensure everyone knew the importance of completing this training before returning to the office.

“The fact that our CEO included screenshots of the training in his emails to employees showed that this was something we took seriously as an organisation. Running the training through Tribal Habits made it far more engaging and understandable than simply sharing a pdf.”

Phillip Pascoe-Thomas | ANZ Manager – Learning and Development | SMEC

The results

The training was rolled out in early June to roughly 1,800 office-based employees across the organisation’s multiple locations. Within 5 weeks the organisation had been recorded an astounding 88% completion rate. This result speaks to both the fantastic communication cadence the organisation has established as well as the engaging nature of the online training created.

While 88% represents a fantastic completion rate, SMEC desires to reach a 100% completion rate of this critical topic. The remaining 12% is made up of employees who are not due back to the office in the next few weeks, however the Tribal Habits platform is being leveraged to identify those individuals and to notify them to ensure that the training is completed before they do return to the office.

“Tribal Habits makes tracking completion a breeze; we have all the information we need at the click of a button. This makes it so simple to identify who we need to follow up.” 

Sarah Jackson | Team Administrator | People & Culture

Anecdotal feedback has suggested the training was very well received and conversations around the office about the return to the office have been overwhelmingly positive. Importantly, SMEC was able to communicate important messages to its employees about returning to the office safely and effectively.


Shopping cart


No products in the cart.

Continue Shopping