When Should Companies Return to the Office?
Many businesses that have been fully distributed since the onset of COVID-19 in the United States are now beginning to move back into the office. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 53% of companies plan to reopen workplaces by July 15.
Some have reconfigured office designs. Others have adopted split shifts to maintain social distancing measures where employees alternate days working from home and commuting into the office. Others are only requiring personnel who need to be in the office to return.
Many companies are still navigating how and if they will return to the office at all. 45% have not set a return date.
As a result of the pandemic, many professionals experienced working from home for the first time. And though the circumstances necessitating working from home were traumatic, many workers enjoyed the benefits of telecommuting. In fact, 98% of people would like to have the option to work remotely in some capacity for the rest of their careers, according to Buffer’s State of Remote Work report.
What do people love most about working from home? According to those surveyed, the biggest perks are having a flexible schedule, flexible location, and saying goodbye to a stressful commute.
Top Benefits of Remote Work
- Flexible schedule (32%)
- Working from any location (26%)
- No commute (21%)
The popularity of remote work also brings good news for employers. In a survey by FlexJobs, 80 percent of respondents said flexible work options would make them more loyal to their employers.
So how can your company navigate the “next normal” taking into consideration the overwhelming preference for working from home?
3 Tips for Navigating the Return to the Office
- Survey personnel about their comfort level. On the whole, the pandemic has been confusing and anxiety-inducing to everyone, in large part because many people are responding to it in different ways. So don’t assume your staff is either comfortable or uncomfortable with coming back. Have conversations. Host roundtables. Send them an anonymous survey. Find out how they really feel. And then let their comfort level inform your decisions.
- Make expectations clear. If your company plans to return to a fully office-based operation, let team members know. The truth is, some may not feel comfortable returning to the office any time soon. If there is a hard line in the sand, be clear so the employees who need to look for other opportunities can begin the process.
- Include location flexibility in future job offers. Companies beginning to consider the shape of business to come would be smart to include some sort of flexible work arrangement in offers moving forward. Studies show that employees are more engaged, productive, and less likely to experience burnout if they can work remotely at least part of the time. So use this as a way to make your job offers more attractive.
There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to safety, work, and COVID-19. But one thing is for sure, working remotely works well for a lot of people. So if you can continue to give people the option to work from home in some capacity you are likely to boost morale and retain talent.