It’s not only the end of vacations, we are also starting to see the end of the global pandemic that has changed the way we used to work. That is so, that the return to the office has become a reality after a year and a half of homeworking.
Vaccinated populations are growing every day and entrepreneurs are beginning to ask their employees to return to their offices. Before, the challenge of companies was to maintain an organization at a distance, now it is to convince their employees to return to their face-to-face positions.
Faced with this situation, employers and employees do not seems to be agreed: only 10% of workers want to return to the office, compared to 83% of managers who prefer to see their employees in their chairs.
However, numerous studies, such as this one published in the Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, demonstrate the benefits for both companies and employees of working from home, including increased satisfaction and productivity, concluding that organizations should take measures to support and promote this model of working.
The hybrid model, the new normal
In order not to lose competitiveness in the fight for talent, many Spanish companies that are not tied to the face-to-face model (such as tourism or restaurant business) are opting to adopt a hybrid model.
According to “Nuevas formas de Trabajar” by Boston Consulting Group, more than half of the companies in our country want to combine 60% working face-to-face with 40% in remote, which would mean 3 days at the office and 2 at home. In fact, it is the model that has been implemented by companies such as Telefonica , Orange or IBM.
The same report states that only 10% of Spanish executives are reluctant to incorporate some type of homeworking, wanting the entirely presence of their employees back in the office.
Either way, the return to the office in any of its forms is imminent and this change can negatively affect employees. Since in HR one of our main objectives is to ensure the welfare of workers, we list a few tips and strategies that professionals in this sector can follow to facilitate this process and improve the lives of the employees.
Strategies to make it easier for employees to return to the office
According to experts, as the director of ActitudPro, Fede Martrat, the transition to a full adaptation to the office can take between three and four weeks. To do this transition with success, it cannot be done to one day to another: employees and their bosses need to talk, because the fluid communication is the key to an easy, gradual and worth return to the office.
“An agreement has to be reached between the boss and the employees. You cannot impose how many and what days will be worked in one way or another. Nor can it be carried out from one day to the next”, explains the managing partner of ActitudPro.
In this sense, managers must notify their collaborators well in advance about when this return to their usual positions will take place. Thus, the employee can start to face the idea of all the changes that will impact on them and establish a new routine, or continue with the one they had before the Covid-19 came into our lives.
A calendar that marks the days of homeworking and face-to-face work would be useful for a short and long term organization, speeding up the adaptation to the new normality.
2. Do not forget what we already learned
Another fundamental aspect for a satisfactory return to the office is not to leave aside all the positive things that the experience of working from home has brought us, and to eliminate old habits that do not add any value to the work.
“Travel can be minimized much more thanks to video calls. We have learned to work by objectives and not by hours.” Martrat says. As for the practices that it would be best to forget, it highlights the long breaks during coffee or the chats between corridors that extend more than necessary.
3. Guarantee security measures
Although vaccines are fulfilling their function, it is still necessary to prioritize compliance with the sanitary measures established by the government to guarantee the safety of all employees.
Offices must have open and well-ventilated spaces, as well as sufficient separation between workers. In addition, it is the company itself that must provide employees with all necessary equipment, such as masks and sanitizers to maximize hygiene and reduce contagion vectors.
Ensuring the safety of employees and letting them know that returning to the office will not pose any danger to their health is a fundamental step to build trust among employees and ensure success in the transition to face-to-face work.
4. Communication is the key
If there is something that working from home has taught us, it is that fluid communication is essential for the proper development of an organization.
If we want a successful back to the office plan and ensure that employees return to their positions without any hesitate, we need to consider their opinions and their expectations. This is perhaps the most important part of all.
Transparency and feedback plays the main roles. For this reason, good practices are to carry out surveys among all employees to measure their level of satisfaction with the return to their usual infrastructures, become aware of their perspectives and act in the most appropriate way possible.
Surveys are also used to track their adaptation, allowing HR professionals to reinforce that measures that are working and improve those aspects of the transition that are most difficult for employees to take on.
To carry out this mission, HR professionals can use resources such as Team Insights. Our tool is perfect for sending pulse surveys simultaneously to all our employees and collect useful information quickly and easily, without losing quality, about important issues. In this case: the experience of employees in returning to the face-to-face work.
The data obtained is displayed on a dashboard in a graphical and highly visual way, so that you can see at a glance all the information you need. You can make the best agile decisions, and in real time, to enhance employee motivation and satisfaction.
We hope that these tips and the use of Team Insights will serve together as allies to facilitate the successful transition to a hybrid or 100% face-to-face model a stress-free way to the normality.
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