It’s been several years since the first lockdown when many businesses allowed their employees to work from home. But with covid now being “a part of life”, many businesses are keen to mandate that employees return to the office. For some, this will be a non-negotiable return. If you’re considering making this change, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to ensure you don’t lose your best talent in the process.
Why mandate a return to the office
There are several benefits to having employees return to the office, even if it is on a part-time or rotating basis. First, there is an increase in collaboration and creativity when employees are able to interact with each other in person. Second, face-to-face interactions build trust and foster relationships that can be difficult to cultivate virtually. And finally, being in the office can help increase productivity as people are more likely to stay focused when they’re not surrounded by distractions at home. It also helps reduce the chance of quiet quitting!
Of course, mandating a return to the office may not be desirable for all employees. So how do you overcome this if a full return to the office is what your business needs? Let’s dive in.
Communicate clearly and frequently
Working from home has been a journey of self-discovery for many, and can be a real productivity booster for some but, when employers decide it’s time to make the return to the office, it is important to communicate your plans clearly and often to employees. By taking the time to do this, you’re making sure staff members feel comfortable, heard, and respected. This sets the stage for a successful return and helps ensure everyone knows what’s expected of them – no guesswork! Plus, it gives employees an opportunity to ask questions or voice any concerns before going back into the workplace. Keep an open dialogue with employees so you can address any concerns or feedback along the way. Open discussion will always be your best ally when navigating big changes like this.
For employers looking to mandate a full return to the office, safety and compliance with national health guidelines are top priorities. Sure, covid is far less scary than it used to be but it affects people disproportionately and vulnerable people will still have concerns.
Establishing flexible policies for workers who remain cautious about returning is key, as is making sure physical distancing guidelines and other safety protocols are followed on-site, if reintroduced.
Offer flexible work options
Working from home has been largely well-received by employees and so it may be tough to convince employees (and potential recruits) to come back in the office full-time. Instead of requiring your team to completely switch gears, offer options that will let them decide how much time they want to spend in the office (at least in the short term). This could include an occasional schedule or a more spread out job where some days are spent in the office and others are done remotely. Flexible working options celebrate self-sufficiency, trust, and true partnership between employees and their employers––going beyond waywardly restrictive policies. With this approach, employees feel appreciated and respected as they are able to choose what works best for them in collaboration with their employer.
Also be prepared to adjust your plans as needed based on changing circumstances.
Provide support and resources to help employees transition back to the office
Transitioning back to the office after years of remote work can be a challenge. In order to facilitate an easy transition, it is essential that employers provide support and resources to employees when mandating a full office return. This support can come in many forms, and may depend on each individual situation – for some, it might include offering flexible work hours or providing mental health counselling, while for others it could include setting up a dedicated workspace or one-on-one training sessions to help get settled in again. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to returning to the office post-pandemic —do what’s best for your company and your employees.
Companies should focus on how they can make returning to the office an attractive option – such as offering benefits like more time off once employees are at work, free meals, and technological enhancements that improve the in-office experience. Investing in creating an optimal work environment should ensure businesses can attract top-tier talent regardless of their non-negotiable policy.
Show your appreciation
As your workforce fully transitions back to the office, it’s important to show your appreciation to them for all of their hard work and flexibility during those trying times. Take the opportunity to thank your team members for their resilience and understanding and find a time to celebrate the occasion with everyone coming back together at last.
The workplace has changed drastically due to COVID-19, leading many businesses to switch to remote work. Although there were significant advantages to this, it had its drawbacks as well. If a company now sees the need for their employees to return to the office full time, they can mandate this without hindering their ability to attract great talent. By being open and honest regarding return-to-office policies, businesses give present and prospective employees an understanding of what they should expect from day one. They should also mitigate any fear associated with returning by emphasising measures taken in the office and allowing feedback from employees on how to make it safe and comfortable for everyone.
For further support in building a happy, engaged and productive workforce, talk to us today.