“I don’t want to go to the office” – This sentiment is becoming increasingly common, as many employees attempt to implement a return to the office strategy for employees who have grown accustomed to the flexibility and autonomy of working from home. While employees may be hesitant to give up the freedom of remote work, employers are recognising the advantages of in-person collaboration. Face-to-face interactions can foster creativity, innovation, and a sense of community that is difficult to replicate online.
A growing number of companies are embracing hybrid work models, which allow employees to split their work time between the office and remote locations, such as their homes. But how do you encourage employees to return to the office, even if it is just for a few days a week. They cannot simply mandate attendance. Instead, they must cultivate an environment that inspires employees to want to come into the office.
To strike a balance between remote and in-person work, organizations must focus on removing barriers and creating a culture that values collaboration and inclusivity. This requires providing flexibility, encouraging communication and fostering a sense of belonging among all employees. By doing so, employers can create a workplace that employees truly want to be a part of, whether they are working from home or in the office.
1. Make it easy to return to the office
When implementing a return to the office or hybrid work strategy, it’s important to foster a culture of employee accountability and trust. However, HR managers shouldn’t forget to consider productivity when creating their plan. While it’s true that not everyone enjoys in-person interactions, humans are social creatures and there’s no substitute for face-to-face meetings. Even the best Teams or Zoom call can’t fully replace the value of being physically present with colleagues. So, while promoting flexibility and remote work, HR managers should also ensure that opportunities for in-person collaboration are still available and encouraged. By striking this balance, organizations can reap the benefits of both remote work and traditional office culture.
Make working together as easy as possible. One study conducted by Brickendon Consulting on work trends says that 67% of people feel stressed if they don’t know where they are going to sit when they go to the office. One may think “We are all flexible! We are giving people the freedom to choose!” right? Truth is that giving that flexibility is great but without control, it becomes a source of stress rather than the sense of “freedom” you wanted to give.
- Is not knowing if the person I need to work with will be in the office a barrier? Remove it by making people choose their own schedules that are visible to all.
- If you have limited seating, being able to pre-book your desk will remove the barrier of people not knowing if they will have a place to sit.
- Is not knowing if you’ll find a parking spot available a barrier? Remove it by being able to pre-book parking spaces.
- Is being squeezed in the tube for an hour due to rush hour a barrier? Remove it by implementing a “flex hours” approach for in-office workers.
- Is not being able to work in pyjama pants a barrier? Yeah, no solution for that one. But hey, what about “Pyjama pants” day?
You can be innovative and creative here and technology is another way to help with this, we will cover that one as our last topic.
2. Listen to your people
We must acknowledge that not everything about the hybrid work model is simple or easy. Implementing a plan to encourage employees to return to the office requires a nuanced approach that takes into account individual preferences and needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to hybrid work, as it can take on many different forms depending on the company and its employees.
While offering perks like “Taco Tuesday” or “free brekkie Monday” may initially entice employees to come into the office, it is important to listen to what they want in the long term. This could include more flexible scheduling, like “pyjama pants day,” or the ability to leave work early on Fridays. Ultimately, the key is to understand what motivates each employee and to tailor the hybrid work model accordingly.
It is important to approach hybrid work as a long-term strategy rather than a short-term fix. As we continue to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by remote work, hybrid work is likely here to stay. By prioritizing communication, flexibility, and employee preferences, organizations can create a successful hybrid work model that benefits both the company and its employees.
3. Leverage hybrid working technology
Depending on the size of your company, it is at least a one person’s part-time job to manage bookings, and schedules, make sure people are “complying with the policy”, etc. This is why investing in technology makes perfect sense so you may focus on your core business instead.
If you have limited spaces, having a tool that gives you real-time data of what is available and booked enables employees to have the peace of mind that there will be a car space, desk, lockers (or any other asset) waiting for them after a long commute to the office.
HybridHero is a suite of tools that contains everything you need to plan your trip to the office. Whether that is seeing your team’s bookings, booking a desk close to your work bestie, or simply booking close to a first aider because “you never know”, HybridHero can cater to almost all work settings and accommodate the strategy that you want to implement. Our tool (proud Hybrid hero here!) can help you boost collaboration, increase productivity, and build a hassle-free culture where people can go to the office with the peace of mind that their trip to the office will be “worth the commute”.
4. Make data-driven decisions
Detailed reporting and analytics is critical for businesses and organizations. Being able to to track usage, identify trends, allows for data-driven decision making. Generate reports on room usage, occupancy rates, booking patterns, and more to help optimize your resources, improve efficiency, and ultimately save time and money.
In conclusion, implementing a successful return to the office or hybrid working strategy requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. By removing barriers, listening to employees, creating a destination workplace, encouraging collaboration, and leveraging technology, HR managers can create a hybrid work environment that is engaging, productive, and enjoyable for employees. While it may not be possible to make every employee want to come to the office every day, by implementing these strategies, HR managers can create a workplace culture that supports both in-office and remote workers, and fosters a sense of community, collaboration, and productivity.
Find out more about how HybridHero can help with your return to work policy click here.