Business owners want their staff back working full-time in the office or workplace. The challenge for them, however, is how to make it happen sooner rather than later. Workers are reluctant to leave the home office and see hybrid working as the compromise, so they must be won over before they reluctantly shut the door on their home office for good.
This article examines why businesses want their staff back in the workplace and how they can do it. Before getting to that topic, let’s look at what happened to enable workers to dig in with working remotely from their home office.
What Enabled Remote Working?
In a word – technology. Why hadn’t remote working been a thing before 2019?
Pre-pandemic, many organizations weren’t fully digital, so staff had no choice but to do their job in the office. However, businesses dragging their heels on taking their business online were fully incentivized to do so when the pandemic lockdowns occurred. If they failed to get their business online, their business would stop.
Digital transformation was the most popular technology project during the Covid years of 2019 – 2022.
Businesses accelerated their adoption of digital technology so their staff could work at home. Some of the technology in demand during this period included:
- VPNs – for secure connectivity from home
- Workflow management apps
- Collaboration software and video conferencing tools
- Cloud computing
- eCommerce and online payment solutions
- Cybersecurity and Mobile Device Management
Plus, many more systems played a crucial role in enabling organizations to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic and maintain productivity in a remote work environment.
Staff invested time and resources to renovate their new home office, learn basic network and online security, and perfect their presence in video chat meetings.
Why Businesses Want Staff Back
With so much invested in the remote work set up, why do businesses want their staff back in the office full-time?
Top of the list of reasons is employee productivity.
Some employers believe productivity is higher when employees are in the office, as they can be closely monitored, and potential distractions at home can be minimized.
However, the counterargument is that the office is distracting; therefore, more work gets done when staff work in their home office.
Collaboration and Team Building
Physical proximity fosters spontaneous collaboration and team building. Face-to-face interactions can enhance communication, creativity, and the development of a cohesive team culture. This is a hard one to argue.
With Zoom calls, many body language cues are missing due to what is visible on the monitors.
The virtual social catch-ups are worthwhile but no substitute for in-person social team-building events. However, with careful planning, communication with remote workers can be successfully managed.
Innovation and Creativity
Some businesses believe that the synergy of working in close proximity leads to increased innovation and creativity.
Casual conversations and impromptu meetings can spark new ideas that might not arise in a remote setting. However, the close proximity of workers can spark off-topic discussions, and some workers find it hard to pull the talk back on topic.
Maintaining and nurturing a strong company culture can be challenging in a remote work environment. Being in the office allows employees to experience the company’s values, mission, and ethos firsthand.
Additionally, part of the company culture is having employees who know their managers need direct supervision of them.
The business performs better when employee productivity and accountability are better maintained due to their physical presence.
Security and Confidentiality
For businesses dealing with sensitive information, the physical security of an office can be crucial.
The controlled environment of an office may be considered more secure than remote locations. Plus, there is less requirement to monitor and manage the network security of remote employees.
Businesses also believe client interaction is more effective in person, and employee development needs in-person interactions for learning and growth.
Return To The Office Incentives
How can businesses get their staff back to the office full-time? Here are five ways to incentivize your staff to return to the office.
1. Travel expenses
Everyone has their price, as the saying goes. Workers have saved time and money while working remotely. Travel to and from the office is one expense they don’t want to incur again.
Employers may need to consider offering travel expenses to employees. It could be a percentage loading on their income or a flat rate.
2. Improved Work Environment
Employers get feedback from employees on the workplace environment and what can be done to improve it.
Renovate the bathroom
What does your bathroom have to do with employee motivation? Quite a bit, actually. Firstly, no one likes having to use an unclean and unsanitary bathroom.
Beyond that, though, the smells that pervade your office can have a massive effect on your team’s energy and focus. So, if some nasty scents are seeping into your workspace from your bathroom, take care of them ASAP!
Upgrade the office
Upgrade the office space to make it more comfortable, collaborative, and appealing.
Consider factors like natural light, ergonomic furniture, and recreational areas. Bring in nature with indoor trees and plants. Increase the distance between workstations.
Make Your Office Pet-Friendly
People love their pets. And more than ever, professionals are often forced to spend untold hours away from their dogs, cats, or other animals they care so much about.
If possible, work to make your office a haven for pet lovers. Obviously, you don’t want pets disrupting the regular flow of work, but allowing your employees to bring their little furry pal to work alongside them will do wonders for their psyche, and they will stay at work longer, too.
3. Lunch Smarter
It’s a good idea for bosses to treat their team members to the occasional business lunch. After all, who doesn’t like a free meal? Still, the best employers understand that a team-building lunch should give their staff several healthy choices.
Rather than ordering a greasy pizza or a stack of high-calorie sandwiches, look for health-conscious options. Not only will your team appreciate the gesture, but they’ll also feel better as a result!
4. Incorporate the Odd Surprise
There is nothing quite like an unexpected piece of good news to lift someone’s spirits. With that in mind, it’s an excellent idea for progressive business owners to work toward treating their employees with a “random” day off from time to time.
Send your staff to a game or a local museum, or, if you really want to turn the dial up to eleven, consider renting a party bus for the afternoon.
5. Create a Home Away from Home
Some of the most forward-thinking businesses are beginning to introduce several creature comforts in their workspaces to increase motivation and energy. In fact, it’s not unheard of for modern offices to include libraries, game rooms, and places designated for naps.
In short, anything you can do to make your team feel at home will go a long way toward eliciting their best possible performance.
Remote working has improved the work-life balance employees have craved, and now they have it, they will not give it up without a fight.
Organizations must incentivize their staff if they want them back to the office full-time. A heavy-handed approach is likely to fail.
Communication and feedback will unlock the incentives employees need to give up the home office, including a more welcoming and attractive workplace environment.