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Work Life
July 23, 2021

What to do if your employees don’t want to go back to the office post-pandemic

As vaccinations continue to be rolled out and offices start to open up, it’s no longer an abstract question of when life will go back to normal but now actually having a specific date on the calendar to plan for. According to a poll conducted by Gartner earlier this year, 69 per cent of mid-size companies plan on reopening their offices in the second half of 2021.

 

While some people are counting the days until they can return to the workplace, they seem to be in the minority. In fact, several surveys have found that as many as one in three workers value the flexibility and safety of remote work say much they would be happy never to step foot inside their office again.

 

While there are perks to working remotely, going back to the office comes with benefits like increased collaboration, less loneliness and clearer boundaries between work and home life. So, what can you do to make the transition easier? We round up the three things you have to do if you want to incentivize workers to come back in to the office.

office social distancing
Source: Pexels

 

Communicate… And then communicate some more

 

Many employees still harbour concerns about how safe the workplace will be, and for good reason – a large number of companies simply aren’t doing enough to maintain transparency and ease employee concerns about the safety measures they have in place. This failure to communicate clearly can have a big impact on morale, culture and talent retention.

 

Business leaders should announce any reopening plans well in advance of the actual date itself, and establish open communication channels so employees can also voice their concerns. During this difficult time, many people are seeking guidance or reassurance, so being honest and transparent goes a long way to show that employee health and safety is your top priority.

 

One thing to avoid here is threatening your employees, no matter how subtly you think you’re being! When business leaders expound the virtues of the office rather than focus on actual employee concerns, they can come across as highly insensitive.

 

office snacks perks
Source: Eden Workplace

Offer office-only perks

 

Company perks remain a huge opportunity for most companies to attract employees. In fact, a survey by grocery-delivery service Peapod found that 48 per cent of employees would take company benefits, such as snacks provision, into consideration when looking for a job. Take some time to discover the preferences and challenges your workforce face to pick the best perks to get your workers back into the office! Here are a few different options you can consider:

 

  • Shuttle service or travel allowance. We all know the main thing people dislike about going into the office is the commute, especially that long sweaty journey stuffed into a train/bus/tram with a bunch of strangers. One company hoping to solve this particular pain point is Bloomberg, who offer a daily allowance to cover commuting costs so workers can decide to hire a private car, take taxis or pay for parking. And if your office is located away from central business districts, another option would be to offer a shuttle bus service from a more convenient location so employees can avoid more hassle.
  • Free food. Now this is a perk everyone can get behind. The promise of free meals or snacks is sure to lure even the most dubious of workers to stay and get some work done. Plus, it comes with an added layer of security – if employees are eating at the office, they don’t have to worry about coming into contact with the public lunch crowd (thanks a lot COVID!).
  • Childcare assistance. Schools are slowly opening up but childcare is still a major headache for many parents because let’s face it, leaving your kids at home unattended is not an option for most people. If you have the resources to do so, creating a child-friendly workspace or perhaps offering an on-site day care can be a great way to increase talent retention and productivity.

 

office layout covid
Source: The World Economic Forum

Review and adapt your space

 

This step requires significantly more effort than our other two, but taking stock of your workspace design and creating an office that people would feel safe in and enjoy spending time in is one of the most effective ways to get your employees motivated to return. The workers coming back into the office have different expectations now they’ve worked from home for the best part of a year so your workspace should reflect that too.

 

If flexible work is set to remain a part of your working model, you might want to consider scrapping the fixed desks and creating coworking spaces that can be shared. Another aspect of this is to review just how ‘COVID-friendly’ your office is. Are people spaced out enough? Are there sufficient hand sanitizers and face masks available? Once people feel safe and comfortable about being in the office, they’ll be more likely to return.

Have you got any other tips? Let us know via email at marketing@booqed.com! We'd love to hear them.

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