Ensuring that Employees Receive Their Personal Belongings: Unique Office Solutions During COVID-19

Published: Monday, October 26, 2020
John Anderson

As a result of a number of unprecedented events related to COVID-19, organizations are facing an equal number of unprecedented challenges. One of these is how to best ensure that employees receive any personal belongings that were left behind during office closings, office moves, work-from-home orders, or timely repatriations.  Whether a temporary or permanent scenario, many employees have found themselves with no access to their offices and no ability to retrieve personal items that vary in size and importance – from family photos to office furniture. Company stakeholders are faced with the daunting challenge of identifying these items, collecting them, and finding efficient ways to return them to their owners, whether these employees now live locally or on the other side of the world.  

Factors Impacting Employee Access to Personal Items

There are a number of reasons employees have been unable to retrieve their personal office belongings, including:

  • Local government ordinances
  • Company-initiated COVID-19-related protection policies (for reasons of employee safety and/or risk mitigation)
  • Building restrictions
  • Repatriation or long-distance relocations that were implemented before access to the employee’s office could be granted

Challenges for Human Resource and Mobility Professionals

When businesses are tasked with returning items to hundreds – or thousands – of employees, they face a number of concerns. Ensuring that the right items make their way to the right individuals is a top priority, as is protecting personally identifiable information (PII) such as social security numbers, email and mailing addresses. From sanitizing and packing items to their delivery, a high level of attention is required to the smallest details to ensure that the right items will make it to the right individuals, successfully; adding to the challenge is the reality that the current global environment can be expected to present its share of roadblocks along the way.  Shipping and customs rules can vary from country to country – and securing service may prove challenging as packing, moving, delivery teams, and couriers are overtasked during this unusual time in global history.

Managing the Challenge

The methods used to return personal items can vary, depending on whether the employee lives locally, lives within the same country, or will require a cross-border delivery. Regardless of the scenario, enlisting the help of an experienced provider can be key, particularly if its staff is able to implement the entire process, from door to door. In doing so, PII protection is enhanced through reduced transfers and handling, accountability is more readily identified, and door-to-door timelines and trails can be more easily tracked. Internal HR and mobility teams are also relieved of many of the administrative duties involved with this massive undertaking, so they can focus on other organizational or pandemic-related priorities.

Technology as a Solution

Since there will be unexpected challenges due to the pandemic, choosing a provider with advanced technology will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth delivery of employee belongings. Ideally, decision makers should choose a provider with technology that can:

  • Assign barcodes to employee items to ensure proper tagging, grouping, and tracking throughout the process
  • Provide insight into overall project and individual shipment statuses in real-time via mobile devices
  • Issue notifications to company stakeholders and individual employees when their items have been packaged and delivered – and all stages in between
  • Maintain secure control and safeguarding of employee PII through a single system, limit the release of data, and delete that employee information upon completion of the overall project

Utilizing an end-to-end provider with technology that accomplishes the above allows for:

  • Timely, detailed visibility, at every stage of the project/each move – rather than the time-consuming process of sifting through pages of digital spreadsheets or hard-copy manual lists from one or multiple providers
  • Proactive troubleshooting since issues, concerns, and changes can be flagged during any stage of the project or shipment

SIRVA is currently utilizing a unique patent-pending technology that accomplishes the above and more.  Commercial Connect TM is uniquely able to assist our clients with the management of moving and personal goods challenges that have resulted from office closures, employee repatriations, and work-from-home orders. Rather than hiring multiple providers for various phases of this type of project (or using different providers, regionally) our platform allows stakeholders to manage all aspects of returning employee belongings (or a commercial move due to closure or an office relocation), streamlining the process while controlling costs, protecting employee PII,  and minimizing the stress of internal staff members and employees.  This technology is available for use in 109 languages.

Unique Circumstances Call for Unique Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on employees and the utilization of the physical locations they work in. When employees find themselves a world away from their recent host locations – and organizations adapt and/or shift office arrangements due to closures or other circumstances – stakeholders will have a tall list of responsibilities to tackle as they make these transitions. Returning personal items to employees or moving the contents of entire office buildings is one significant item that can be checked off of that list, when partnering with a provider that has a wide global reach, innovative technology, and the means to handle the process from end to end.

For more information about how SIRVA can provide a seamless solution when returning personal items to employees or managing your commercial move, contact us at

Learn More:

SIRVA Commercial Moving Services (informational web page):

Welcome to SIRVA Commercial (video):

Commercial Connect (video): 


For more information please see SIRVA's Blog Disclaimer