By: Juliet Zito
As the U.S begins to reopen, more and more organizations are starting to consider the future of their offices and employees. While all organizations and industries differ in their need for employees physically in the office, it’s important to consider many factors as your team constructs a plan to return to work. Before announcing a concrete plan, listening to your employees and letting them have a say in the future of their work dynamic is key to a successful transition. Some aspects of return to work plans may be set in stone but compromise is key to employees feeling valued. Overall, these plans are new to everyone and throughout the process it’s crucial that everyone remains flexible and open-minded.
We’ve mapped out five factors for your team to consider as you navigate the transition back to the office or establish a new future for your organization. It’s understandable that each team and organization will have different goals and values and this should be taken into consideration as decisions are made. This is new territory for every organization so while there may be a few challenges along the way everyone should feel like they have a voice in the strategy and changes to come.
1. Remote, In Person, or Hybrid
The number one question among employees of almost every organization has been “When will we return to the office?” As people have adjusted their lifestyles to working from home though some aren’t as motivated to return to the office and would rather continue to work remotely. According to a survey from digital workplace platform Envoy, 48% of respondents said they would prefer to work a few days remotely and a few days in person. Known as the hybrid model this style of work is still allowing organizations to utilize office space while still giving employees a work from home lifestyle.
2. Health Precautions
It’s important to note what health precautions employees are taking and would like to maintain as they return to the office. If your organization is planning on asking employees to return to the office in any capacity, health guidelines should be clearly established. This will allow for less confusion through an open dialogue about what is expected of employees and any concerns they may have about returning to in person work.
3. Work Situation with Team
Department dynamics are important to consider when establishing return to work plans. Some teams have thrived during remote work and have even been more productive. Other teams may need to physically be in the office for projects and meetings. Communicating with all of the department leaders on what they feel is necessary for their team’s success along with being flexible to different working styles will allow for an easier transition for everyone.
4. Compensation Adjustments
While the economy and job market are continuing to recover from the shock of 2020, employee salaries have been adjusted for a multitude of reasons. Revisiting employee salaries and their new working situations is a helpful way to evaluate what is important to people. For example, the survey led by Envoy found that 41% of people would take a lower salary if they were offered a hybrid work plan. Other organizations may offer a stipend to employees who are planning to work remotely full-time to cover expenses of a home office. In other situations, some employee's job tasks may have changed due to health rules or cleaning requirements. Regardless of the situation, your team should revisit this topic to ensure that employees are being fairly and equitably compensated for their work and office location.
5. Company and Management Values
The public health, political, and social events of last year have led to more organizations and employees being transparent with their values. Organizations should be sensitive to this new dynamic in the event that different viewpoints are brought up between team members and leadership. They should also clearly communicate their values and standards to their employees as a way to check in and ensure that everyone is adjusting well to life post-pandemic.
We hope these five factors help you think through the future of work for your organization. While each organization will approach the changing work environment differently, it is always important to consider your employees perceptions and experience as retaining the right people for your organization and clientele should always be a priority.