Are your staff coming back to the office to take Zoom calls?
It seems that even after two years of working from home, employers are still expecting their employees to return to the office eventually. In addition, many CEOs and senior executives (e.g. Elon Musk) argue that working together in a shared physical space is important for teamwork and collaboration.
Of course, employees may be less enthusiastic about returning to the office full-time as most Singapore workers prefer flexible working arrangements. However, a US study also found that 50% of workers would rather resign than return to the office full time. So even if they stay, they may end up as disengaged employees.
Why are bosses insisting on bringing their staff back to the office?
Employers should first ask themselves this question,” What is the reason for bringing employees back to the office?” Do business leaders want to see staff in cubicles, or do they prefer productive workers? If a worker is already delivering results from remote working, is there a need to shift them back to the office and burden them with commuting time and costs?
Furthermore, employers must rethink how the physical aspect value adds to an employee. Employees do not want to return to the office to take Zoom calls, sit in isolated cubicles and eat lunch on their own while not engaged in informal discussions. Instead, there could be collaboration days, team lunches, events or happy hours to create meaningful opportunities for social interaction for the staff who do return to the office. The top 5 incentives used by companies to attract staff to return on-site are (1) food and beverages programs, (2) social events, (3)company events, (4) furniture and amenities and the (5) office environment. Expectations should also be communicated when outlining and launching a return to the office program (RTO).
Besides improving the office experience, bosses must also enhance remote employee engagement and include initiatives prioritising employees’ well-being. Spending on well-being initiatives shows employers are serious about investing in remote work and finding the right balance for a hybrid work arrangement.
Training managers to take the lead.
Team leaders and middle managers are often tasked to roll out workplace change, but they are not always trained to do so. For example, 66 percent of employees did not feel comfortable sharing mental health issues with their manager during the pandemic, which could be attributed to gaps in training and communication channels. Managers often do not have the information needed to implement changes and reduce the negative sentiments toward RTO.
Therefore, a good RTO program should have empowered managers who know how to boost employee morale and productivity and manage well-being challenges.
What do you think are the key elements in rolling out a successful return to the office program to increase employee productivity?