Date: 17/09/2021

Back to offices?

AmCham’s HR Forum organised Back to the Office, an online interactive panel that allowed AmCham members to exchange experiences and plans for a partial or complete return to the office

AmCham is closely following and adapting to public health developments, with the primary objective of safeguarding the health of staff, their families, and the society at large. These considerations led the event to move online instead of being held face-to-face as originally planned, and the discussion explored whether working from home would supplant the traditional office.

Opening the panel, Ivana Karanović, the newly elected HR Forum Chairperson and head of development and education at Karanović and Partners, introduced the body’s agenda for the coming two years. Key topics the Forum was looking to deal with include corporate culture, employee loyalty, relationships between staff, and continuing professional development. Ms Karanović invited all AmCham members to join the AmChamps initiative, adding that the HR Forum was planning to introduce a similar initiative aimed at secondary school students.

The panel comprised Jovana Anđelić, HR Director at Metro Cash & Carry; Ana Lukač, HR Business Partner at Mlekara Šabac; Ivana Paunović, Employee Experience Manager at Nordeus; and Evica Kuč, Employee Experience Manager at OTP Bank. The panellists were joined by Dragana Bajić, Chairperson of the Labour Regulations Comittee and Aleksandar Petrović, the Committee’s Vice-Chair, who sought to answer legal questions relevant for the topic of the event. The panel discussion was moderated by Sanja Miladinović, HR Forum Vice-Chairperson and Talent Aquisition Manager at PepsiCo.

The panellists presented the various experiences and approaches adopted by their respective industries in response to the successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic and spoke about the challenges of tracking employee performance in the hybrid environment. Even though working from home had been possible before the pandemic, the event heard that companies had developed a broad range of options to move operations online by digitalising both communications and business processes.

‘During the pandemic, the priority has been to save all jobs. This has meant trying to find the right solution to ensure employee performance remains robust and can be tracked in this hybrid arrangement’, said Jovana Anđelić.

The panel noted how most employers were not requiring vaccine certificates or negative test results before letting staff take face-to-face meetings or come back to the office, but that these options were under consideration. ‘We haven’t asked returning employees for vaccination certificates or negative antigen tests. Still, over the summer we did have a number of corporate events in the physical space and we did ask invitees to provide these’, said Evica Kuč.