While most employees have returned to work, many do not wish to work full time, and a full-scale is uncertain. As a consequence, businesses and organizations must tread carefully as offices reopen and resume regular activities.
During this transition in the way Americans work, each company has distinct goals and obstacles, and managing them means balancing trade-offs between a secure workplace and leaving space for alternatives that take into account future iterations of Covid.
With this in mind, we will reveal what employees are actually thinking and how departments like Human Resources can accommodate both remote and on-site work options, and entice employees to return to the office.
What the data reveal
To get a sense of employees’ views of remote and on-site work, OfficeSpace Software oversaw a survey to learn what employees and employers felt, the group commissioned a countrywide study of over 1,000 working Americans.
The poll found that working Americans had similar expectations for returning to work. In the workplace, however, employed Americans are divided on the effect of the Covid-19 vaccine.
A little over half of employees have already resumed traditional on-site work. Despite this, as many as 50% who worked in an office before the epidemic don't want to go back.
Almost half (47%) of respondents said their employers want them return to work full time. Interestingly, a comparable amount (40%) wants certain adjustments made to the workplace when needing full-time staff.
Changes include scheduling team meetings and restricting conference room reservations, as well as mask and immunization restrictions. It's still a balance between employee comfort and what a firm needs to succeed.
What does it imply for business?
The conclusions are clear: There is no one prescriptive route enterprises should take. They may either bring staff back in person or allow remote work.
They must first comprehend their workers' feelings before taking action. Given the virus's cyclical nature, organizations must prepare for plans that may not be finalized for some time. Pre-pandemic business-as-usual may well be off the table for the foreseeable future.
Regardless of the chosen path, employers must justify their actions.
Working in person versus remotely is a hotly debated topic among employees on both sides of the aisle.
The present difficulty is that the road ahead varies greatly per industry. Securing the workplace and its operations is an ongoing concern as new threats develop and destroy the best-laid strategies.
Why do people come back?
The workplace is dynamic and ever-changing, however the personal connection remains a constant.
Arguably, the most meaningful loss from the office is the loss of social ties: 37% of those polled said they missed seeing their peers, with 28% saying they missed face-to-face meetings and a dedicated workplace.
However, to no one’s surprise, the majority surveyed were not sorry about losing their daily commute.
Their preference between a remote vs workplace split was mixed.
As many as 42% said they would leave their employment if their boss made them go to work every day.
Business leaders ought to take these numbers seriously and request feedback from workers on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of a shared workspace. While it is not a simple endeavor, making the office more attractive is not insurmountable, especially if employers routinely convey possibilities and are prepared to modify arrangements.
While most employees have returned to work, many do not wish to work full time, and a full-scale return is uncertain. As a consequence, businesses and organizations must tread carefully while reopening offices and returning to "normalcy."
A helping hand from human resources
The HR department can be a major asset in the effort to bring workers back to the office.
Firstly, they can try to accommodate a hybrid approach for workers who have shown they're equally, if not more, productive working at home part-time or full-time.
And secondly, they can make returning to work more fun, inspiring, and safe. Here are six suggestions:
Formulate a benefit
Gallup suggests employers that want to re-engage workers build a workplace value statement. It highlights the company's culture, perks, and pleasant relationships with workers.
Make sure it covers these four points:
- Employees will interact professionally and personally. Plan organized and unstructured time to connect, share, and discuss life and work.
- How will workers successfully collaborate? Working together increases productivity and builds trust, both of which are essential in a mixed workplace. So plan wisely. Plan tasks that need teamwork and interdependence while individuals are present. At home, let them perform less collaborative work.
- How will workers collaborate creatively, and how will the company capture the value? When individuals are physically together, they develop more ideas and solutions. Organize casual meetings to discuss difficulties, new ideas, and lessons learned.
- Culture. How will you re-establish business culture post-COVID? Request employee input on how to improve teamwork and where values and objectives are founded.
Step back before moving forward
You want them to feel cared for and valued when they return. So respect each other's journeys.
Encourage front-line managers to reflect on the last year's difficulties, sacrifices, and successes. Then ask workers one-on-one:
“What do you like and dislike about remote work?”
Most importantly, “what do you miss about working in an office?”
“How can we improve working on-site?”
“What do you need to thrive in our new workplace?”
One method to get people to come to work is to promise—and deliver— efficiency. Employees will be engaged if they realize they can come to work, do their job (and potentially more), then go on with their personal lives again.
Offer a Skills Upgrade
The workplace is evolving. Employees seek instruction that helps them to work quickly.
Almost half of the organizations surveyed by The Harris Poll are developing internal training programs to enable workers work remotely.
Find the tools people need by collaborating with IT, front-line management, and executives. Then teach them to adopt and master them.
What’s more, preparing employees for the modern workplace not only makes returning to the office a win for the employee, but it’s a double whammy for businesses—the office is alive again and personnel have new skills to add to the mix.
Employees' emotional and physical health may change. They will want to be on-site if they can easily explore and obtain what they need.
Counselling, telehealth, coping, and prevention are common mental and behavioral advantages. Most provide guided well-being, such as yoga, and exercise.
These are all beneficial if staff are aware of them, trained on their usage, and encouraged to utilize them.
This is where HR comes in: carry out a super simple internal marketing campaign that educates and encourages on-site resources for well-being. Executives can support the program getting front-and-center with participation.
Lead with Compassion
Despite the volatility of the last two years, job satisfaction is rising, according to workforce analysts at Zippia.
At the end of the day, it’s clear why so many people prefer to work from home, yes they can wear their sweatpants and forgo long commutes, but also they get to work in a space where they feel deeply secure and surrounded by people who care about them.
If employers can make their staff feel a similar way with greater understanding, support, and empathy, then going to work becomes more like travelling to your second home.
No, you don’t have to become Michael Scott from “The Office”, but if you embrace your HR department (unlike Michael) and work with them on the strategies laid out here, then remote workers can start seeing the office as the best of both world.