COMMUNICATION AND COMPROMISE – GETTING STAFF BACK TO THE OFFICE
Organisations are having difficulty encouraging their employees to return to the office, even on a part time basis. This is leading to a disconnect in terms of focus, culture and commercial outcomes.
The situation is being worsened where many clients are now returning to their offices and require a greater level of interaction – face to face in some instances.
An industry colleague of mine was explaining recently that they decided to refurbish their office space during COVID creating a state of the art, technology enabled, socially aware environment. The space can house 50 staff however so far there has been no more than 10% occupancy on any one day.
We discussed whether they had addressed personal needs with each team member and worked out an arrangement which considered individual and corporate preferences. They had not.
Staff were asked to return to their new, shiny offices by a certain date. This approach was met with direct push back and a reluctance to comply.
We are aware of the general desire of many to work from home, which is now a frequently asked for employment condition. Less than two years ago this was often frowned upon when requested. Most employees sight one or more of the following when asked why they don’t want to return to the office:
Work life balance
Physical and mental health concerns.
Many people have been (at a minimum) working in a hybrid model for 18 months. If you are going to ask for a return to the office, even for part of the working week, your offer needs to address what is now the norm and provide some level of compromise. Otherwise, your company may suffer the disruption and commercial damage associated with The Great Resignation.
A number of companies who have mandated a return to work (either immediately, or from the start of the new year) are finding valuable human assets are taking on new roles, or in some cases resigning without a new role to contemplate their future over the festive season.
Clearly this not a good outcome. Management needs to communicate and compromise to get the best result in this challenging employment market.
Firstly, undertake an objective review of what tasks can be conducted in the office environment and those that can be completed from home.
Job Descriptions should be re-written to reflect the breakdown of responsibilities and how they are to be measured. You can then determine amounts of time that can be spent between the two locations to get the job done. Then, each employee needs to be consulted so the various individual situations can be evaluated, agreed and included in the job description.
A workflow map can be developed which will aim to identify all staff needed to complete tasks in the office and otherwise working from home. Some may work from home full time. It’s a time-consuming task but far less costly then having to recruit and train new employees should existing teams become disgruntled.
This approach should lead to ownership of the new world work practices and outcomes by all stakeholders, and should be reviewed on a regular basis to allow refinement.
At Tanner Menzies we know what it takes to thrive in this post-COVID environment. Call Peter Gleeson 0419367569, Ian Stacy 0417478229 or Peter Tanner 0419826637 or visit tannermenzies.net.au for more information.