Welcome to the Topic “Strategies on Getting Employees Back to the Office”
Employees were forced to leave the office and enter their houses more than two years ago due to COVID-19. And though most offices have already reopened, not everyone is as eager to go back.
As more companies are embracing their employees back into the workplace, employers are realizing that getting their employees onboard with ‘The Great Return’ – as it’s being termed, is not that great and is turning out to be a lot harder than anticipated.
Employers are noticing that some employees are still reluctant to return to the office, even though many others are looking forward to returning to their original workstations.
And in extreme cases, mandating employees to return results in unhappiness or resignations and a lack of employee loyalty overall.
Reasons Employees Don’t Want to Return.
Before discussing how to get employees back to the office, let’s first examine why workers might not want to return to the office in the first place. After all, while looking for the best answer, getting to the source of the issue is essential.
Today, several nations have removed their COVID-19-related limitations. This is especially true for businesses across Europe and North America, where most headquarters have wholly reopened. This includes tech behemoths like Apple, Google, and Twitter.
However, during the past two years, a substantial change has occurred in how people want to work, as the pandemic has significantly altered how people view their work-life balance.
As a result of these rising employee expectations, companies now need to do much more than just reopen their doors when welcoming employees back to the workplace.
The following are the primary reasons why workers don’t want to go back to work:
- Some workers still worry about their health and prefer to stay away from busy areas like workplaces.
- Employees who work from home have greater control over their schedules and may use this freedom to run errands swiftly, exercise in the afternoon, or take nature walks for lunch.
- By avoiding commuting, they save time, energy, and money on gas or public transit
- Employees can spend more time with their family and save on childcare costs
- Remote work allows far greater geographic freedom and can be done anywhere worldwide – giving people the freedom to live in more cost effective locations
- Employees may completely personalize and maximize their work environment at home based on their preferences
While all the reasons listed above are valid factors for not wanting to return to the workplace, the overwhelming fact is that working from home can be detrimental to business owners and the longevity of their business.
Reduced opportunities for mentorship, collaboration, and trust building are just some of the factors contributing to this decline in the bottom line.
That’s not to say that ignoring employee sentiment and mandating a return to the office is the appropriate response.
However, it is to say that a significant balance and compromise on both the part of the employer and employee has to be made to ensure each party’s needs are appropriately met.
Drawbacks of Working From Home
Working from home may seem like a dream come true for some workers. However, it can be a very challenging obstacle for others. Not everyone has the same work style or needs and all factors need to be considered before mandating a full office return.
Lack of Productivity
There is a claim that working remotely boosts productivity because it gives workers the ability to optimize their schedule in a way that best suits them and their work style.
However, many workers will admit that working from home has its share of drawbacks, all of which have the potential to reduce productivity.
One such issue is the idea of trying to stay focused and remain interested in work for an extended period while so many alluring distractions are available.
It’s more than a little tempting to take a pause on work tasks and instead take that midday nap, get distracted watching a new web series on a dual monitor, or step away from the computer to handle some needed household chores.
Working remotely can also oftentimes lead to feelings of loneliness. isolation and demotivation, which makes it difficult to do quality and timely work.
Humans are social creatures by nature, and being alone at home all day is not necessarily productive for everyone’s mental and emotional health. Both of which are inextricably tied to a person’s productivity and performance at work.
Lack of Motivation
Most people are motivated to move forward in life and accomplish their goals. However, when things go wrong, it can be very easy to lose motivation and get stuck in the negative thought cycle.
This negative thought cycle can rapidly decrease motivation and increase the danger of not reaching intended goals and results.
It’s at times like these that a pep talk from a senior employee at work, or a chat with a fellow coworker, can be excellent sources of external inspiration and motivational drive.
Being in an office with coworkers who share a common aim and purpose in the workplace can be a positive benefit and help mitigate the negative thought cycle and feelings of demotivation.
Lack of motivation can make an employee’s life more challenging, and severely influence their productivity, making it difficult to ensure employee retention.
Although self-motivation might be effective in some situations, not everyone is able to thrive in that mindset. Many people need external motivation and accountability to keep going and maintain productivity.
Lack of Communication among Colleagues
It can be very difficult to perform productive and efficient work alone. That’s why teamwork and company culture are so important when it comes to the longevity of a business.
While some workers are pleased about the prospect of working alone and without the distractions of the office, many others may find it challenging to stay focused and accountable.
It can be daunting to work long hours and communicate with distant team members without any face-to-face connection.
There are several systems where team members may communicate via video conferencing to try and maintain face-to-face interactions. However, communication through the barrier of a screen might not be as beneficial as getting together physically to brainstorm solutions in person.
Verbal communication is only one way to communicate with others. Facial expressions, body language, eye contact, and many other nonverbal signals help coworkers understand each other better and lead to improved lines of communication for the team as a whole.
Not to mention the newly coined “zoom fatigue” and the research demonstrating the link between video conferencing and reduced creativity.
Tips to Get Your Employees Back to the Office
Transparency is the Key
While it’s essential to pay attention to staff concerns and consider their input, it’s also important to be upfront about the company goals and standards.
Explain to employees the reasons behind company policies and actions, and tell them why they are wanted back in the workplace.
Explain the reasoning behind the policy and provide the details behind how the company leadership came about making their choice.
It’s crucial to maintain a continuous feedback culture and practice transparency throughout the process. This can be done by maintaining frequent in-person meetings or on-site cooperation events.
It’s imperative to proactively solicit feedback from staff to help gauge employee sentiment, satisfaction, and loyalty.
Adopting Change is Not Bad
Nobody will benefit from enforcing regulations that staff vehemently oppose.
It’s unwise for employers to entirely ignore how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the workplace. That’s why being adaptable and open to change is so important when getting employees back to the office.
However, while it’s not necessary to go to a fully remote workforce, there can be compromise in potentially adapting to a hybrid approach where employees are permitted to spend some time working from home.
Preventive Measures are the Primary Concern
Even though the government authorities may have reduced the majority of COVID-19 measures, certain employees may still feel uneasy and afraid due to personal health concerns and conditions.
Because of this, it’s crucial to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe when returning to the workplace. Put systems in place that space out workstations, decrease foot traffic, or increase cleaning of high-touch surfaces.
A hybrid approach also allows for a reduced number of workers to be in the office at the same time, which allows for more social distancing, but not distanced working altogether.
Investing in Team-Building will Always be Beneficial
Teamwork and corporate culture are more crucial than ever when trying to entice workers back to the workplace.
Employees desire inclusive environments and expect businesses to make three crucial investments to get there:
- Work-life balance
- Team building culture
- Mutual respect
Work-life balance and mutual respect are prominently discussed aspects, but equally crucial are team-building efforts and cultivating a positive workplace culture when your employees return to the office.
Making the workplace psychologically safe, so everyone feels welcome and secure is the first step. But then comes setting up team-building exercises that encourage interaction among your staff members and offer them a cause to return to your workplace.
COVID-19 has hit businesses on all levels. However, companies are continuing to work hard to provide additional value and resources to their employees to increase productivity and retention.
Providing all the necessary facilities and taking care of employee fundamental rights can make or break company initiatives to get employees back into the office.
Feeling confident about getting your employees back to the office? Contact our team today to discuss potentially renegotiating the terms of your lease.
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