How excited are employees to return to the office?


08-06-2021

If the roadmap out of lockdown stays on schedule, the “work from home” order for office workers expires on 21 June. With many office-based roles lending themselves to remote working though, to what extent will a return be embraced by workers?

Are Cambridgeshire employers really ready to welcome back staff to the workplace?

  • COVID restrictions are still planned to end on 21 June.

  • Employers will be keen to welcome back staff to the workplace.

  • But how excited are employees to return and what hurdles could be faced?

If the roadmap out of lockdown stays on schedule, the “work from home” order for office workers expires on 21 June. By then, employees in most other job roles will already be back. With many office-based roles lending themselves to remote working though, to what extent will a return be embraced by workers?

Caroline White, Director at The HR Dept Cambridgeshire and North Herts says: “Although we are approaching the stage when staff are allowed back in the office, the pandemic has shown us that a degree of remote working does work for many businesses. Therefore, the first questions to ask are: who is coming back and for how much of the time?

“It is clear that there is no single right answer. Among big businesses for example, Facebook has proclaimed that staff in eligible roles wishing to work from home can do so indefinitely. Conversely, Goldman Sachs has dismissed the idea of permanent remote working, arguing that it’s not appropriate for a company with an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture.

“The final decision will come down to you as the employer, and be based upon the needs of the business, the health and safety risk assessments , and also, I’d strongly advise, taking into account staff sentiment, which may not be uniform. Some may have genuine anxiety about returning to work. Others may be desperate to get out of the house.

“Understanding the reasons for their preferences will help. Modifying your plan where appropriate will create goodwill by showing that you care. For example, if a worry about using public transport during rush hour is the problem, allowing flexible start and finish times or introducing a cycle to work scheme may be a positive path forward in easing the way back.

“Some businesses are implementing a full on-boarding process for staff returning after months of furlough, like the programmes normally reserved for new hires. In one survey of tech businesses, this was found to reduce the proportion of returning employees feeling anxious from 55% to 28%.

“You may find that now is a good time to review your premises. Are they the right size for your post-pandemic workforce? Can you easily make them Covid safe? Does the location make for an easy commute? Do they offer an inspiring environment where people actually want, rather than are required, to be?

“If you are going to carry on with remote or hybrid working, pay attention to how it impacts your company culture. The good news is that with so many digital channels available for connection and fostering a good culture, you should find the mix that is right for you. It will take thought and effort to implement well. There’s truth in the adage ‘Out of sight is out of mind’ though, so be careful that your culture doesn’t deteriorate without your realising it.

“One thing’s for sure, the quicker Hertfordshire employers can identify the right long-term approach for them and plan towards a smooth transition, the more successful they will be.”

For enquiries on this topic, please contact Caroline White from The HR Dept, at caroline.white@hrdept.co.uk or on 0345 078 8454.

 

Local businesses throughout Cambridgeshire, run by people like you, outsource their HR because it is easier and more cost effective. We tell you what you can do, not what you can’t. We are here to give you practical and sensible help to sort out problems whenever you need us. When you are thinking about how to grow for the future, we can help you put together the ‘people plans’ to enable you to be even more profitable tomorrow.

HR Dept.