The day we’ve been eagerly anticipating for over a year is nearly here – the restrictions on life are almost over. We can meet in large groups, go to events, leave our face masks at home and return to the office. But while the challenges of working from home have been widely discussed, are your employees happy to be going back to the office?
For many businesses, the desire is clear – the workforce needs to get back to the office as quickly as possible to restore productivity, collaboration and company culture. However, according to research from Finder, employees have just as many reasons to want to continue working from home:
- Financial – workers save £44.78 a week by not commuting or buying lunch out.
- Personal productivity – 75% workers believe they are more productive at home due to fewer distractions
- More free time – the average daily commute in 2019 was 59 minutes. This is a saving of five hours across the week.
That’s not all, from conversations we’ve had with clients, workers have grown accustomed to the new work-life balance the pandemic has afforded them. The benefits of this include:
- Flexibility to do the school run or relax childcare arrangements
- More family time
- Ability to get chores done during the week
- More time to do exercise
So just how do you manage this sentiment among your workforce when your intention is to bring everyone back to the office?
Set expectations early on
In reality, returning to the office “as soon as possible” doesn’t mean you want everyone back at their desks on 20 July. As mentioned in our article about ensuring happiness at work, employees will need plenty of notice of the return date and how this will be done a few departments at a time.
Send a communication to all employees detailing how the return to work will take place and detail the reasons behind the decisions you’ve made regarding an office/home split. Also give employees a channel to raise any concerns they may have privately and present their case for alternative working arrangements.
Recognise how your employees’ priorities may have changed
In 2019, being able to do the school run or sit down as a family for dinner every night may not even have been a consideration. Today, however, it might be non-negotiable for many of your staff. Speak with your management team to understand if more flexible arrangements a few days a week are possible and ensure that the benefits are awarded to all staff; not just parents.
Talk about what needs to change to be flexible
If you do give your staff greater flexibility then make sure you attach some clear conditions concerning how they make up the time off or ensure all tasks are done on time. You may also wish for them to ask for their line manager’s permission in advance.
This will ensure productivity doesn’t slip and that all staff are being treated equally.
Also, put everything in writing.
Remember you’re running a business not childcare arrangements
Any business that is open to giving their staff flexibility and a good work-life balance should be applauded – as long as it’s not to the detriment of the company’s performance. Remember that you are paying your staff to do a job and they signed a contract with you to fulfil the role’s requirements to the best of their ability.
If employees working from home didn’t work for your business then set a date to put a stop to it. Your staff won’t thank you if the business doesn’t survive and they don’t have a job to go to.