Businesses worldwide kicked their return to office plans into gear this month. As you can imagine, some of those processes have gone smoother than others. Maybe your business is sitting on a mostly empty office, and you’re ready to fill those seats. Let’s take a look at the best ways to get that done.
Fully remote work arrangements are on the decline, but entirely in-person work may be a thing of the past. A Gallup survey found that work’s future lies somewhere in between. In June 2022, 60% of remote capable workers preferred a hybrid model. That stat will prove critical for your return to office plans.
Critically, that same Gallup survey found that only 6% of remote employees are open to a total return to the office. So if a full return to the office is your goal, you will need a very enticing plan to keep your people around.
Remember, you’re competing with the comfort and convenience of a home office. Whether implementing a hybrid approach or a full return to the office, you’ll find some of our helpful, competitive strategies in this blog.
Return to Office Benefits
Many companies implemented work-from-home benefits at the onset of the pandemic. Things like home office reimbursements made life easier for employees during that transition. We believe a similar approach to the return to office will smooth over some bumps in this change.
When you think about these perks, ask yourself what would make it easier to get back on-site. What tradeoffs are employees making between working from home or the office? How can you make those adjustments less of a burden?
We recommend some combination of the following:
- Commuter benefits
- On-site breakfast and lunch
- More casual dress code
- Childcare benefits
- Office events
Whether employees are driving or taking public transit, the cost of commuting adds up. Subsidizing at least a piece of that will go a long way. Other features like on-site meals, casual dress codes, and office events like workout or mixology classes make the workplace more exciting and welcoming. A little bit of fun and pleasant energy are great ways to compete with the convenience of work-from-home. Make your return to office an exciting process!
Consider safety protocols
Though the worst of the pandemic may be behind us, safety concerns may linger with your employees. For many, this can be a non-negotiable issue, but sometimes all you need are some thoughtful safety measures. For example, you can work with a provider like ADDA for COVID management and contact tracing.
If you can’t afford a test-and-trace solution for your return to the office, consider keeping your office stocked with cleaning supplies. Spacing out desks is another approach, if possible. Whatever tactic you use here, it’s essential to validate the concerns of your employees. Otherwise, you may find yourself with heaps of new job requisitions to fill.
Provide clear expectations
Employees need to know when they’re expected in the office. One of the main drawbacks of a hybrid model is that employees are often unclear about when they actually need to come to work. For many employees, flexibility is welcome, but others thrive with a bit more structure. Work with your teams to develop a plan that makes sense for your return to office. For example, do you need everyone in three days a week? Make sure you can explain why, and, furthermore, what specific days in the week, if any.
Without a structured hybrid format, employees may feel that your model is more of a suggestion than an expectation. Now, if you want everyone in the office five days a week, you absolutely must be ready to outline the reasoning behind your decision. Be prepared for pushback and potential resignations.
If you’re going to force the rank-and-file to return to the office, executives should follow suit. You’ll quickly find yourself with a bubbling employee morale crisis on your hands if they see leadership playing by a different set of rules. One way around this is to implement a slightly more individualized approach across the board. Perhaps each department can set its own requirements. Either everyone has to come in at the same time, or everyone gets the same amount of flexibility.
Hybrid is the future of work
As the numbers indicated above, the hybrid model is the present and future of the workplace. Of course, employees are going to cling to the flexibility they’ve enjoyed these last few years, and how can you blame them? Most will feel they’ve been just as productive, if not more, in the remote and hybrid setting as they would be in the office full-time.
As such, we heavily encourage you to take a hybrid approach to your return to office plans. Gallup also found that remote and hybrid workers report feeling more engaged at work and having higher overall well-being. Those feelings, they note, lead to employees that are 59% less likely to look for other jobs.
Moreover, a full return to office approach could easily be stunted by the everchanging COVID variants or newer issues like monkeypox. Maintaining some flexibility could be the best thing for businesses and their employees.
We know the urge to return to the office is a strong one for many leadership groups worldwide. However, scratching that one itch the wrong way could leave you with a rash of other issues down the road. So listen to your employees’ needs and concerns, and communicate openly and honestly as you build your return-to-office plan.
Need help with your return to the office?
ADDA’s consultants develop plans for smooth returns to the office. If you’re ready to bring employees back on site, schedule a call today to learn the best path forward for your business.