As an employer, you may be impatiently waiting for your employees to return to the office… But do your employees really miss physically going to the workplace?
Your employees coming back to the office is unlikely to happen in the next few weeks, however, if your plan is to gradually bring your employees back to the office, when the government will allow it, then there are several things you will need to think about to ensure a smooth transition from working from home to working in the office.
1. Listen to your employees
Your employees’ expectations may have changed. If in the past no one questioned the need to travel to the office, the pandemic will have accelerated the trend of working remote. Some people really liked the opportunity to work from home, others hated it. But according to ADP Canada, 59% of Quebecers hope to work from home at least 3 days a week after the pandemic. It is therefore important to consider offering the possibility to work remote, or a hybrid model for the future.
Most importantly, talk to your employees to find out what they want. Did some find they were less productive at home or felt too isolated? Have others felt more productive, and been able to have a better work-life balance? Maybe some of your employees have even taken advantage of the pandemic to move further away from their workplace? The reality of each one will greatly influence the wishes of your employees for the future. But be careful to keep in mind fairness in the treatment of all employees, despite their different realities …
As long as there are strict sanitary measures (masks, hand washing, physical distancing) there is a good chance that your employees will not want to be in the office 5 days a week. When the government allows it, take the opportunity to have your employees come to the office once or twice a week to start. This will allow employees to get used to the dynamics of the office (and the new sanitary measures) very smoothly. Thus, they will be able to benefit from the positive aspects of “face-to-face” work and remote work.
3. Focus on the positive
Speaking of positive aspects, whether you want your employees to come back to the office full time or part time, talk to them about the positive aspects of the workplace. Going to the workplace allows for better relationships with colleagues, breaks down social isolation and promotes collaborative work. Going to the office also improves the feeling of belonging. Make sure you bring whole teams to the office, and encourage managers to do informal meetings or team building activities. Employees must perceive a significant benefit from being in the office if you want them to be motivated to come back several times a week.
4. Prepare a remote work policy!
No matter the work model you want to prioritize after the pandemic, be sure to update the company’s work policy, or even create a remote work policy. Obviously, it won’t be perfect from the start, and there’s probably going to be a lot of trial and error. But it’s important to have a certain framework in place that employees will need to follow.
If you plan to allow employees to work from home in the long-term, will there be mandatory office hours? Who will establish the remote work schedules? What will be the official means of remote communication? And if you’re going to reduce your office space, think about a plan and a way to implement office space reservations.
Make sure you are as fair as possible when it comes to working from home. If you allow certain administrative positions to work remote, all similar positions should be eligible to do so. And if some positions just do not lend themselves to working remote, have a good rationale. As mentioned above, it is important to listen to the reality of all employees and even to involve them in the implementation of a remote work policy. That being said, there must still be guidelines based on the different positions and on the reality of the company.
5. Think about employee retention
Not seeing your employees physically at work every day can be worrying for an employer or a manager. Be aware, however, that surveys have shown that productivity has not declined while working from home (it has often even increased). Rely on the experiences of the past months to see if remote work is a viable solution for your business in the long term.
And while moving to a hybrid work model might take more effort in the next year or so, it could make your employees more satisfied, and make them stay with your business longer. Banking on flexibility could increase your employee retention rate, since as mentioned in point 1, many employees hope to work remote part time.
In the end, it’s up to you as the employer to decide if you want your employees to come back to the office, and more importantly how often. But if you trust your employees, there’s a good chance they’ll be productive, even remotely.
While everyone hates this now popular term, it’s up to you to define your “new normal.”
To read more: 7 Most Common Reasons Why Employees Quit
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