How to Encourage Employees to Return to the Office
Are you and your employees ready to go back to the office?
Following the easing of restrictions on 19th July, UK workers can start returning to the office. But of course, it’s not that simple. Understandably, many people have mixed feelings about returning to their workplace -- some positive, others less so.
The past 16+ months have been strange, worrying, and traumatic. Social distancing, lockdown, isolation, being apart from loved ones, living with constant uncertainty, and the feeling of loss and disarray: this emotional turmoil isn’t something that can be simply switched off.
Another factor influencing the return to the office is the upheaval that comes with change.
After more than a year working from home, people have become used to working from home and have made it part of their life. Whether that’s clearing and converting a spare room into an office, or changing family routines and work schedules, work has become integrated with our personal lives more than ever before.
That said, the office exists for a reason.
In an ONS survey carried out in April and May 2021, respondents stated that while work-life balance was the big positive of homeworking, the biggest negative came from collaboration difficulties.
That’s why we’ve seen greater acceptance of ‘hybrid’ work models. This enables employees to split their working week between the home and the office, which continues to provide the flexibility of working from home while balancing the need for in-person collaboration.
In fact, the same ONS survey found that 85% of home-based workers want to use a ‘hybrid’ work approach in future.
With that in mind, here are some steps managers can take to help their staff feel more confident about returning to the office.
- Start with safety: Above all, employees need to feel safe. Here at UBC, daily cleaning services are included with your serviced office as normal, and ever since March last year we’ve added extra cleaning and sanitisation in line with government advice. You’ll also find Covid-safe protocols such as socially distanced communal areas. Communicate these safety initiatives to your staff; you could even do a video walk-through to help your staff feel confident about returning to the office.
- Meet one-on-one: Talk to your staff to find out how they feel about returning to the office and offer to meet one-on-one. A friendly in-person catch-up in one of our spacious meeting rooms can help to allay fears and ease employees back into the office environment gradually.
- Share regular updates: In the current situation, there’s no such thing as overcommunication. By providing a steady stream of information about the workplace and any new changes or policies, your employees will have a clear understanding of what to expect. This in turn will help them to feel more comfortable. Keep asking for feedback, and ensure your employees know that communication is a two-way street.
- Timeshare options: It still feels a little odd being in close proximity to other people, and that feeling will be with us for a while yet. Consider implementing a hybrid work schedule or office timeshare options -- this gives everybody the chance to use the office during the week, without running your workspace at full capacity.
- Make your workplace more inviting: Create a space that people want to come back to. That might mean upgrading your office furniture and introducing adjustable-height desks, or integrating more plants in your space, or even going in for a full redecoration. Speak to your UBC team about any changes you want to make, and we’ll help in any way we can.
Returning to the office is a process, and like any process, it needs careful thought and planning.
The key is to be flexible, and to work with your team to accommodate their needs. Take time to speak with your employees and ease them back into the workplace gradually. We humans are incredibly adaptable, and in the same way that homeworking fast became a new ‘normal’, so too will your new workplace approach going forwards.
If you have questions about your UBC office or if you are looking for advice about flexible workplace options, simply speak to your centre team and we'll be happy to help.