In the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, business transformation is happening before our eyes and organizations are relying on technology to enable employees and digitize processes,” said Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst and Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy. “ServiceNow’s Safe Workplace app suite is exactly the kind of solution organizations need to effectively manage the return to the workplace and optimize employee experience.

We care deeply about our people. Empathy and compassion are core ServiceNow values, just as they are for many other enterprises around the world. The impact of COVID-19 on individuals and households does not lessen or go away when we return to our workplaces. In fact, for some employees, returning to the workplace in the future is not an option due to their personal situations at home.

ServiceNow’s comprehensive employee workflow products enable these and other experiences to happen simply and easily. For example, ServiceNow’s existing Targeted Campaigns capabilities can inform different groups of employees – such as employees located in specific geographies or in certain departments – of return to workplace plans, engage employees for feedback and initiate workflows to act on that feedback. Additionally, ServiceNow’s Lifecycle Event Engine can create workflows associated with the employee’s journey – like returning to the workplace, onboarding, transfers and leave of absences. Lifecycle Event’s capabilities can be used to automate processes spanning HR, IT, Workplace Services and other functions to support returning employees to the workplace seamlessly.

Our return to workplace efforts include two areas of focus. The first, workforce readiness, is about meeting our people where they are, with empathy and compassion, given their personal circumstances resulting from COVID-19. The second, workplace readiness, focuses on preparing and managing our physical workplaces across myriad requirements and constraints to ensure the safety of those in our care.

ServiceNow established a COVID-19 Crisis Management Team in January 2020, when the outbreak began in Asia. Their work continues today. The team including senior leaders from global talent. IT, workplace services, communications, and legal. As a team, they decided to send our 11,000+ employees in 28 countries to work safely from their homes in early March, ahead of many regional and local orders. This same team is leading return to workplace efforts.

Our team’s experiences informed the development of ServiceNow’s no-charge Customer Care apps, released in March, as well as the most recent suite of Safe Workplace apps, released in May. The Customer Care apps continue to help team care for ServiceNow employees. The Safe Workplace apps are invaluable tools in our return to workplace efforts.

It’s likely that you already have your own version of a cross-functional COVID-19 taskforce. As you begin your own return to workplace journey, it’s vital to ensure that your taskforce includes the right mix of functional leaders, as well as access to effective tools and technology.

Defining the return to workplace journey

ServiceNow has developed a set of frameworks to ensure we follow our guiding principles in our corporate decisions and actions. These frameworks support execution of our strategy at the local, regional, and global level. They include:


Readiness Framework: Considers the three domains of returning to the workplace—the community, the workplace, and the employee — and determines the level of dependency, influence, or control we have over each. Reviewing all three is essential to any decision.


Re-opening Framework: Directs the actual execution of our strategy by prescribing the specific criteria or stage “gates” that must be crossed before any workplace is re-opened. It requires compliance with enterprise-level requirements but provides flexibility to account for local considerations.


Phased approach: Governs our plan and ensures we are not timebound by decisions and can accommodate any given community or local situation. It’s important to remain flexible about this approach and revisit it as necessary, depending on the fluid conditions of the pandemic.

Whether your company has one site or hundreds, establishing a clear strategy for returning to the workplace is critical. Sharing your guiding principles and strategy with your employees can help instill confidence in the process and reduce the natural anxieties that result from uncertainty.


Technology also plays an important role in ensuring the seamlessness and compliance required as part of the return to work efforts.

As our return to workplace plan unfolds in the coming months, Structural changes are expected to emerge in the workplace plays, not just at ServiceNow but across many enterprises. I believe we are on the cusp of the ‘distributed workplace’ where employees own the choice of where they work best, driving work location flexibility to new heights. Key to the ‘distributed workplace’? Digital workflows.