How are you making it attractive for employees to Return to the Office?
I remember when I first used the term 'hybrid workplaces' ... there were a lot of people who were asking me what that meant.
Now, it seems well accepted that hybrid workplaces are indeed here to stay. Some employees working remotely, some working in the office ... but how do employers manage this?
Some seem to be following the old 'command and control' methods of leadership, telling employees they MUST return to the office.
A very short-term strategy, I believe. Leaders need to fully understand and recognise there is a huge difference between getting compliance and gaining commitment.
More and more evidence is emerging that employees now not only want but expect to have greater control over how they do their jobs. Today's article in Inside Small Business (https://insidesmallbusiness.com.au/management/planning-management/younger-aussie-workers-most-hesitant-to-return-to-the-office-full-time) stresses that:
"extended COVID lockdowns have heralded a shift in worker habits that is unlikely to be reversed in the long term. It also shows that younger employees have vastly shifted expectations and hopes for the workplace of the future, including a greater expectation of flexibility."
The costs involved in commuting, as well as the 'lost' time is a further motivator for many to want to continue to work from home.
Employees in countless organisations, industries and professions demonstrated very clearly during the past two years that they can be productive and relied upon to deliver the KPIs of their roles. Employers who fail to acknowledge this and work with employees to agree on the logistics of their future work hours will be making a very grave mistake.
Low job control is one of the primary psychosocial hazards to mental health that exist in businesses. Now that employees have experienced a level of 'freedom' in doing the jobs they are paid to do in more flexible ways and while working from home, smart employers will ensure they devise ways to enable their teams to continue to have some level of flexibility in how they do their work.
Another article published last week put it this way:
Given remote working can save employees an average of 9.5 days a year in travel time, they need a powerful reason to travel to a central workplace. Your business needs to ‘earn the commute’ and make it worth your employees’ time to come in.
Wow. That's certainly a different way for leaders to approach this conundrum.
Think about what can be done to enable your teams to feel motivated to come into a central office with their fellow workers. Coming together will be key in building and maintaining a culture of belonging, teamwork and collaboration.
The way forward for savvy leaders, though, must also allow for employees to have some level of control as to how, when and where they do their work. The vast majority of employees have clearly demonstrated they have earned the right to be trusted.