Workplace Wellbeing Academy


The dynamic landscape of the modern workplace has been profoundly impacted by various factors, including technological advancements, globalization, and most recently, the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes have necessitated a re-evaluation of traditional approaches to work, particularly in the context of returning to the workplace after prolonged disruptions. In this regard, the IGLOo framework, introduced by Nielsen et al. in 2018, emerges as a valuable tool for guiding organizations in navigating the complexities of the return-to-work process. This framework encapsulates key dimensions that facilitate a smooth transition back to the workplace, considering individual, group, leadership, organizational, and societal factors.

The IGLOo framework is an acronym that stands for Individual, Group, Leadership, Organisational, and overarching factors such as national policies and practices as well as social attitudes and norms. All of these can play a vital role in the successful reintegration of employees into the workplace. The framework emphasizes the interconnectedness of these dimensions, recognizing that the return-to-work process is not a unidimensional phenomenon but a multifaceted one requiring holistic consideration. However when one or more of these dimensions are not effectively addressed, it can make a successful return to work less likely.

The first dimension recognizes the importance of individual experiences, needs, and concerns. Employees’ personal circumstances, health considerations, and psychological well-being must be acknowledged and addressed. The IGLOo framework encourages organizations to provide tailored support, clear communication, and resources that cater to individual needs.

The return to work often involves the reformation of teams and collaboration structures. Group dynamics, communication patterns, and team cohesion can be affected by prolonged periods of remote work or absence. The IGLOo framework highlights the significance of team-building activities, open dialogues, and the establishment of a shared sense of purpose to ensure a harmonious reintegration of teams.

Effective leadership is a linchpin in the successful return to work. Managers and leaders play a pivotal role in setting the tone, fostering a culture of trust, and providing direction during times of uncertainty. The IGLOo framework encourages leaders to exhibit empathy, transparency, and adaptability as they guide their teams through the transition.

The organisation’s policies, procedures, and structural elements must align with the return-to-work strategy. Flexibility, accommodation, and the adoption of hybrid work models are often central to accommodating diverse employee needs. The IGLOo framework highlights the need for organizations to establish clear guidelines, allocate resources appropriately, and create an environment conducive to productivity and well-being.

The broader societal context cannot be overlooked. Societal changes, norms, and expectations influence the way individuals perceive their roles in the workplace. The IGLOo framework emphasizes the role of organizations in adapting to evolving societal norms and in contributing positively to larger societal discussions, such as work-life balance, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability. National policies around sickness absence benefits can also play an important role imn a successful return to work.

The IGLOo framework can offer several benefits that enhance the return-to-work process. By considering individual, group, leadership, organizational, and societal dimensions, the IGLOo framework can ensure that all relevant aspects of the return-to-work process are addressed, minimizing potential challenges and enhancing overall effectiveness.

Prioritizing individual and group factors in the framework demonstrates an organization’s commitment to employee well-being. This approach can lead to improved job satisfaction, reduced stress, and increased loyalty.

The IGLOo framework promotes an adaptable and resilient organizational culture that can effectively manage disruptions. This resilience extends beyond the return-to-work phase, benefiting the organization in the long term.

By focusing on group dynamics, the framework aids in building stronger teams, fostering collaboration, and ensuring that the collective effort is greater than the sum of individual contributions.

Organisations that successfully implement the IGLOo framework position themselves as forward-thinking and people-centric. This reputation can attract top talent and positively influence stakeholder perceptions.

Nielsen et al.’s 2018 IGLOo framework offers a comprehensive and multidimensional approach to the complex challenge of returning to the workplace. By acknowledging the significance of individual, group, leadership, organizational, and societal factors, organizations can navigate the intricacies of the post-pandemic landscape with resilience, empathy, and strategic foresight. Embracing this framework is not only essential for a successful return to work but also indicative of an organization’s commitment to the well-being and success of its employees.

Any organisation that embraces this framework will need to commit from the top down rather than just train a group of workers to firefight when problems arise.