5 Things To Consider For A Successful Return To Office Strategy

As more and more businesses are bringing employees back to the office, there is much to consider. While some organizations are continuing remote work practices, many businesses are exploring return to office policies and whether to retain some level of hybrid work.

Many employees embraced the flexibility and freedom of remote work and have concerns about returning to the office. Employees who want autonomy over their work schedule and location may find themselves at odds with organizations who want to return to an in-person presence to drive company culture, team bonding, and productivity.

If your organization is thinking about how to deploy a return to office policy, here are five things to consider:

  1. Consider the needs of the employees. If most of your employees have been working remotely for a considerable period, they are likely to have created a comfortable routine working from home. Be thoughtful in your approach. Be sure to thoroughly think through what the work culture and environment will be after your employees are back in the office. Are you expecting it to be just as it was during pre-pandemic times where results were the primary focus? If so, you may need to adjust your thinking. Your employees are likely to have some different needs and priorities than they did before. Some may be reluctant to return to a high-pressure environment. Some might want more flexibility to better balance work and home life. Your organization may see better results if it can balance the needs of the business with the needs of your employees.
  2. Consider collaboration. Take the time to solicit feedback from employees. Don’t just ask whether each employee wants to return to the office or not. Go deeper. Whether it be a detailed employee survey, small group discussions, or a 1:1 session with each team member, it’s important to get a thorough understanding of your employees’ wishes. Think of your employees as partners in the success of your organization and remember that partnership is not a one-way relationship. Start by creating a return-to-work plan, get input from employees, and work together with them to address concerns and find solutions that will work for both the employees and the business. Your employees are more likely to be satisfied with returning to work if they had a say in crafting the solution.
  3. Consider flexibility. Flexible work is now a common perk. It became the norm during the pandemic and it’s here to stay for many industries. When you implement your return to the office policy, offering your employees some flexibility will likely pay dividends to your organization in the long run. Some businesses will offer the choice to choose what days their employees work onsite each week, while other businesses might require employees to come in on Mondays and Tuesdays, for example. Another option is to consider a gradual approach to rolling out your return to office policy. If the goal is to get employees into the office 5 days a week, start off by asking for 2-3 days a week to start and clearly communicate the timing when you’ll expect everyone to return to the office full time. If you can offer some flexibility to your employees, it’s likely to help them adapt more easily to returning to work.
  4. Consider the benefits. If you can help employees see coming back to the office as less of a mandate and more of a benefit, the more likely they will be enthusiastic about returning to the office. Highlight the benefits of in-person knowledge sharing sessions with leaders and mentorship programs. Plan on-site leadership development programs and team building activities to enhance career development. Consider what new perks your business may wish to offer to entice employees to return to the office such as additional time off per month or quarter, parking or transit subsidies, wellness programs, and so on. If companies are requiring employees to give up working in the comfort of their own home, it might also be worthwhile to give some thought into creating an office environment where people want to be. Consider offering collaborative spaces, quiet spaces, more comfortable office chairs, a communal kitchen space, and so on.
  5. Consider the consequences. We have seen a shift in priorities for all levels of employees, including executives, who are now prioritizing flexible work and PTO above salary when considering job offers. If there is little flexibility offered to workers, some businesses may have trouble acquiring and retaining talent. Employee movements such as “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” have shown that employees aren’t hesitant to consider changing employers if they feel their needs are not being met. Employers should carefully consider the potential consequences of return to the office mandates, as too much rigidity could drive away top talent.

While there is no one resolution that’s perfect for every company or every employee, a thoughtful approach to designing your return to office policies can show your show employees you value them. And when employees feel valued, they are more likely to be loyal to their employer.

Do you need guidance crafting return to work plans for your business? Catapult can help. Contact us today.

Return to all posts