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Why Business Are Modifying Their Return To Office Plans

Mandira Venkat Jun 14, 2022 12:00:00 AM
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Since publishing this blog, many companies, including Apple are reported to have established return to office policies. If you'd like to learn more about these policies, read this blog.

The way people work has fundamentally changed since the pandemic and companies need to adapt their workplace to meet changing employee needs. As we face the 'Great Resignation’ or as some are calling it the ‘Great Rethink’ employers need to provide their employees with a sense of fulfillment to avoid turnover and bolster morale.

Although many business leaders are planning to return to office fully-in person next year, many employees said they’d consider leaving if required to return to office full time. There is a disconnect between the desires of executives to return to the new normal and employees desires for hybrid, flexible work options.

Employers who make decisions on returning to the office without consulting their employees may risk losing key personnel, as in Apple’s case, or risk creating a negative aura around their culture as in the recent demand from Elon Musk that all Tesla office workers return to in-person work or leave the company. It is in the best interest of companies to consider the potential impacts on employee turnover, engagement, and productivity before establishing or changing their return to work policy.

Why Return to the Office?

A fair question, if operations were possible working remotely, why should employees return to the office?

Why Some Want to Return to the Office

As COVID moves to the endemic stage, many employers want their staff to return to the office. Executives appear to be more eager for a return to the office than employees. Why? Organizations need to improve engagement with their teams and one way to do this is by building collaborative workspaces. Additionally, connecting in person can help foster culture and improve employee’s connection to the mission. 

Amidst the Great Rethink, we see that a sense of personal fulfillment at the office is important for employees. But all employees are different and there is not a one size fits all policy that can satisfy the different preferences of employees. Some employees are extroverted and motivated by working with others.

How This Impacts Revenue

Many employees adapted to remote work life. There are several reasons why employees are hesitant to return to the office full-time.
  • For parents and other caregivers, remote work allowed them to more easily satisfy their work life balance and get facetime with their loved ones.
  • Many employees don’t want to return to the daily commute.
  • While some workers prefer a social work setting, there are others who prefer working without others and feel more productive in that space.
  • People enjoy flexible work hours, scheduling work around their other daily responsibilities

The main takeaway here is that some folks are able to live a happier lifestyle when working fully or at least partially remote. They might not want to stay with a company that doesn’t allow them flexibility.

Strict vs Flexible Return to Office Policies

Employers risk losing top talent when they establish return to work policies that force workers to return back to the office. We are already seeing talent leave due to return to work policies they disagree with. Businesses are facing a tight labor market already, creating policies informed by employees may improve retention.

Ultimately the decision is up to employers, however hasty decisions may lead to unexpected losses with personnel that could hinder the business.

When establishing return to work policies, employers should consider how it will impact engagement, which is at an overall decline currently.

We are seeing a higher employee engagement with hybrid and remote workers versus those onsite. Additionally, engagement is higher for organizations who prioritize culture and well-being.

Although employee engagement appears to be better with a flexible work schedule, employers are still trying to understand how to maintain culture in a hybrid work environment.

Gauge Employee Sentiment and Track Success

As employers build their hybrid work program, communication will be essential to success

How can you convince executives that a hybrid model can be productive? Track the success of your program by evaluating who is returning to the office, how often, and creating collaborative opportunities to nurture employees. Where do you start? Talk to our team.  


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