Due to the COVID-19 pandemic spurring a work from home revolution, many companies are struggling to get employees back in the office. Many people are afraid of getting sick, especially with the new emerging variants of the virus. And while some are suffering Zoom fatigue, many employees enjoy the comfort of working from home and the extra free time they have. If companies want to make the office an environment that workers want to flock to, they will need to come with specific strategies. So in this article, we are going to look at 4 strategies that companies are using. So let’s see!
Do Employees Want to Work in an Office?
When COVID first hit, companies were forced to go 100% remote, and many were happy to give up expensive office leases. However, after more than one year of working online, many employers are realizing that not all business functions are suited to the work-from-home model. Unfortunately for businesses trying to return workers to the office, many are not interested! According to Forbes, 16% of workers have zero desire to work in an office again, and 52% of workers want the option of a hybrid model and the ability to work from home when they want. Companies should be particularly worried about the 45% of employees who said they would switch roles if their current employer refused to offer work-from-home options and flexible conditions.
If businesses think they can simply order employees back to the office and carry on like it was before COVID, they are in for a rude surprise. To get workers back to the office, they are going to offer a range of benefits and provide a safe environment where employees feel comfortable. Let’s look at some strategies businesses can use right now to get workers back in the office.
1. Prioritize Safety and Cleanliness
The COVID era exposed the vital role of cleanliness in an office environment. Workers in 2022 are not going to tolerate an even slightly unclean office. They will expect that the office is thoroughly cleaned daily, that all surfaces are regularly scrubbed, people are given enough room to socially distance, and that there are ample amounts of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Even when the pandemic slows down, companies can expect workers to want heightened cleanliness levels to protect against other nasty viruses.
To ensure employees feel safe working in an office, companies should do the following things:
- Extra space – Gone are the days where companies could force workers to huddle up closely next to each other. Companies will not have to ensure that workers are 1.5m away from each other when working.
- Limit sharing of office equipment – Businesses should be providing all workers with their own keyboards, computers, and stationery to limit close contact with others.
- Plenty of hand sanitizer – Companies must have bottles of hand sanitizer placed throughout the office and encourage people to use it regularly.
- Complimentary masks – Businesses should hand out masks to employees and have plenty spare if anyone forgets one.
- Daily cleaning – Companies need to ensure that the whole office is scrubbed daily and that special attention is paid to desks.
If companies follow these guidelines, they will be able to provide their employees with the safe environment they deserve. However, this strategy alone will not entice all of their workers back. Let’s look at some other strategies that businesses will have to use in conjunction with providing a clean office.
2. Improved Air Quality
While COVID can be spread through touching infected areas, the main driving forces behind the virus were poor air quality and ventilation in enclosed spaces. Too many offices have poor ventilation with no chance to open windows and no outdoor areas, which is very dangerous, especially in the midst of the Pandemic. The result is employees breathing poor and recycled air over and over again for the entire workday. In this new COVID area, employees are going to accept breathing substandard air and refuse to return to a potentially dangerous working environment until the air is fixed. With many companies still operating fully remotely, this is the ideal opportunity for companies to invest in new HVAC systems with supplemental filtration.
Companies should install HEPA filters in their office builders to protect their workers. These filters are highly effective at removing airborne particles, including dust, pollen, mold, allergens, viruses, and odors. Businesses should combine these filters with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) which is able to zap viruses and other nasty bugs. Thanks to the powerful UV light, viruses are zapped and can no longer function or spread. Companies will have to make these upgrades if they want to convince their workers that they can protect them against COVID.
3. Salary Raises
If employees really want workers back in the office, they will have to pay for the privilege. The game has changed in 2022, with many companies offering permanent work-from-home roles and giving employees choice, allowing them to decide how often they come to the office. If a company is offering a classic 9 to 5, Monday to Friday office role, then they will have to pay an above-average salary to compensate for these below-average working conditions. Companies should expect to pay 20% or more to entice employees to give up their work-from-home roles.
4. Flexible Working Options
Many employees have been thriving over the past two years working from home. Employees have suddenly found that working in their pajamas and not spending an hour on the train or bus makes life much better. However, some employees are missing the in-person social interaction that comes with working in an office and have found that collaborating and innovating solely through online platforms is not ideal. There are only so many Zoom calls a person can take!
To get the best of both worlds, companies will have to offer flexible working conditions. These flexible working conditions could be one day per week in the office or heading to the office a few times a month for big specific events or brainstorming meetings. Many companies have already switched to this model and found an increase in employee activity.
To get employees to agree to flexible working options, the businesses may need to reinvigorate their offices. Allowing people to choose where they want to work is a good start. They should also design fun and interesting work areas such as couches, outdoor areas, and different meeting rooms. Expect companies to take some inspiration from tech firms and start providing foods and drinks to their employees, providing napping and workout areas, and really go all out to entice workers back to the office.
Getting workers back in the office will not be an easy task for many companies. Those that try an authoritarian approach will find that their best employees will quickly leave a cascade of resignation letters. However, if the businesses are willing to provide flexible working conditions, increase salaries and ensure the office is a safe environment, they have a much greater chance of enacting an effective return to the office strategy.
-In Collaboration with SignalHire.com