As the majority of adults in the United States are expected to be vaccinated by the summer, organizations are starting to plot strategies on how and who to bring back to office. Post pandemic, even if workplaces are reorganized for safety protocols and regulations, it is clear that not all employees want to be back in office. Employees want the flexibility that comes with a hybrid workplace.
This article provides an approach to arriving at a long term solution. Whether you're an HR person, an employee, or in charge of managing and leading teams, here are 3 tips to kickstart your return to office solution.
3 tips to bring employees back to office:
Recommendation for HR
The most important activity that needs to be taken up is the categorization of all the roles into the following three types:
The critical roles and job functions that can’t be done remotely. Some roles may be very obvious and some may be not that obvious; And it is important to have a good explanation why the identified roles need to be in office. Employees in these roles will need to be in office for all the working days. HR department has the responsibility of defining workplace culture and perks that will entice the employees to stay in these roles.
2. Fully remote
The roles can be performed without everyone coming to office. Employees in these roles can live anywhere in the country and do their job effectively. These employees should have the option to work from anywhere or come to office on a schedule they can work out with their manager.
There are the roles where employees can come into office for a few days a week and be remote for a few days. In this model, it is important to define the minimum number of days employees are expected to be in office, and also push for a repeatable weekly schedule instead of keeping it completely ad hoc. While the ad hoc model could work for some businesses, in the long run it could lead to scheduling and team collaboration issues.
This process should not be done in isolation, take input from leaders, managers, and employees. Once this exercise is complete, it is important to communicate this information to all the employees and explain the rationale on why roles are put in these categories. Be prepared to address employee concerns, not everyone is going to be happy about the role categorization.
Recommendation for Employees
Employees have an important job of keeping the workplace running, and as such, must assess their personal situation carefully before making a decision:
Employees just joining the workforce thrive in an environment where they are able to meet their peers and superiors on a regular basis. Even roles like 'Software Programming' - that can be performed remotely - can also benefit from learning about company culture and rituals that can shape their careers.
2. Employees with young kids
The employee is the best judge on what is best for them, and in some cases employees may want flexibility to work remotely, while in other cases they may just enjoy the break from having to do chores at home.
3. Employees with long commutes
Employees living in big cities with long commutes often feel the stress of commuting that leads to long term health issues. It is important to provide these employees flexibility to move into fully remote roles and hybrid work models.
Managers and employees should have an open dialog with these employees to identify these scenarios and come up with a work arrangement that works best for the company and the employee.
Recommendation for Managers and Leaders
It is important to evaluate how important it is for a role to be in office full-time or remote. The long term implications on morale, productivity, and culture can be quite adverse if this exercise is not done well. Define proper job descriptions, roles, and responsibilities. When necessary, consult with workplace experts to define these details. Be prepared to take input from employees and address all their concerns. While HR can help facilitate these discussions, it is ultimately up to leaders to set the tone for the culture they want to have within their team and the business goals they need to achieve collectively.
If you are an HR leader reading this article, please write to us on how you are thinking about bringing employees back to office, check out our Return to Office solution or contact us here firstname.lastname@example.org