5 ways employers can support employees returning to the office

LinkedIn data shows most UK employers stated they will be returning to the office within the next 6 months. With the majority adopting some form of hybrid working, following the ease of lockdown restrictions.

Most employees are looking forward to the socialisation and collaboration aspects of returning to the office. However, there are significant generational divides when it comes to the importance of meetings and career progression.

If you are planning a return to the office, it’s important you take the welfare of your employees seriously. We have put together 5 top tips for employers to follow to ease their employees back into the physical workplace:

#1 Speak to your employees

Find out how your employees really feel about returning to the office. Whether you do this anonymously, or in your 121 catch-ups. It’s important you don’t just assume your workforce are happy to return to the office. You can then use these insights to help you plan the office return, in a way that suits everybody.

#2 Offer flexibility

A recent survey found that 58% of people would look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely. So, when reopening your office remember flexibility is key. You need to think about what motivates and encourages your staff. If you’re forcing a return to the office full-time, do you think productivity will be at an all-time high? By having an honest conversation, you’ll be in a better position to offer a more flexible plan to suit everybody.

#3 Consider changes

Dressing up for work discourages millennials the most from returning to the office. Younger generations feeling work is “the way it used to be” stops them wanting to go back to the office. So, by making some small changes, it could really encourage people to return to the office. Consider whether ‘smart office wear’ is necessary, allow for more breaks, and measure productivity by results, not hours worked.

#4 Highlight the benefits of office-working

There are several benefits working in an office can achieve, and you should highlight these to your employees. Feeling isolated, to IT frustrations; there are plenty of examples as to why getting together in the office is beneficial. Explain the reasons why you want your workers to return, so they don’t feel like they’re only returning to be micro-managed.

#5 Provide additional support

A recent survey has found that 40% of businesses are yet to implement any new mental health policies in response to the pandemic. It is so important the mental well-being of your staff is at the forefront of your mind, regardless of returning to the office or not. By providing additional support now and continuing this going forward, your employees will be in a better mindset when you do ask them to return to the office.

Our final thoughts…

It’s been a long road for all of us, and it doesn’t stop with the easing of lockdown. It has been over a year since businesses closed their doors and either furloughed their staff or asked them to work from home. Many of these employees had never worked from home before or ever had the option of flexible working. The pandemic has taken its toll on a lot of people, and it’s important to remember what is right for one employee, may not be right for another.

For example, Rishi Sunak’s comments regarding the return to the office for young people; “I think for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable.” A lot of younger workers felt his comments were ‘out of touch’ with what young people want and need. What was right for Rishi when he started out in his Finance career, isn’t necessarily what is right for new generations today. The world adapts and changes, and the way we work has to change too, in order to fit in with the ‘new normal’.

If you need any help or further advice on how to support your employees returning to the office, then be in touch via our contact us page. We’re more than happy to help.

References for returning to the office article:

https://inews.co.uk/news/business/rishi-sunak-back-to-office-get-on-young-workers-out-of-touch-1134111

https://hbr.org/2021/07/help-your-employees-who-are-anxious-about-returning-to-the-office

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-makes-people-want-return-office-whats-putting-off-siobhan-morrin/?trackingId=2mYdvCwjRIGQLIwgYLspww%3D%3D

https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-to-prevent-the-return-to-offices-from-being-an-emotional-roller-coaster/