Remember the day when you requested your employees to work from home? Since then till now, pandemic has de-arranged both work space and work models. Two years ago, WFH was a necessity and now the rage of bringing employees back to office has begun. So what is your stand?
- Do you want your employees to return to work?
- Do you support employee-driven choices?
We tried to know the mindset of both employees and employers related to the future of work. This insightful blog will cover the following focus points-
- Are Companies Forcing for returning to the office after COVID?
- Are Employees Forced to Come Back to Office?
- How can Employers be ready for the future of work?
Employer’s Standpoint: Are Companies REALLY forcing Employees to Return to Work?
As the pandemic and its effects are vanishing, many companies adopt the new world of work by formulating policies to best suit their business requirements.
Tata Steel’s policy of ‘Agile Working Model’, Twitter’s alignment on ‘forever work from home’, Spotify’s ‘Work from Anywhere’ approach along with many other models of top brands have highlighted the importance of adopting the new normal, providing the opportunities to new parents, the travel bugs, a win-win scenario for both employers and employees and other significant aspects of work from home.
“It was expected that by 2025  , remote work would become the new norm”
On the other hand, many giants like Goldman Sachs believe that WFH was just an aberration and needs to be corrected quickly, Infosys is in support of institutional culture which comes with working in office, Netflix CEO doesn’t see any positives in going completely remote. These giants, along with many other brands, are planning to bring employees to their desks to increase face-to-face interactions, minimize micromanagement and improve their confidence and emotional well being, in short, permanent work from office model.
According to a Gallup survey , “three in 10 employees working remotely say they are extremely likely to seek another job if their company eliminates remote work.”
Companies are all set to bring back the office buzz, meaningful connectivity and a culture of mentoring in elevators and hallways, making policies for flexible work hours, virtual tech-led culture and harnessing the best talent across the globe.
When we studied and surveyed, we found that most employers think of the hybrid work model. The model aims to strike a balance between the expectations of employers and the aspirations of employees. Besides forcing employees to commute daily and return to their desks, employers aim for a mix of both work from home and work from office to retain top talents and maintain the work culture of their organization.
What are leaders expecting from hybrid culture?
- Strong work culture of motivated employees who can focus on both process and outcomes
- Better engagement, interaction and experience of employees with zero escalation time
- Redefined customer satisfaction, simplified interaction and living up to their expectations
- More brainstorming sessions, less learning time and improved collaborative approach
In short, leaders are expecting to utilize human resources as their human capital post-pandemic.
Therefore, a hetero era of redesigning workplaces to bring employees return to work, redefining self-development experiences for employees working from home, improving reskilling and upskilling opportunities and much more to empower employees has started.
Employees’ Standpoint: Are Employees Forced to Come Back to Office?
Microsoft recently conducted the survey ‘Great Expectations’ which stated- “About 50% of leaders are planning to call employees to return to in-person work full-time from next year.” In the same report- “52% of workers are thinking of switching to a full-time remote or hybrid job in 2022.”
Most of the surveys concluded on the same note that employers are willing but employees are feeling forced or unwilling to return to work. But, when we looked closely we got blended responses from employees across different departments.
An employee from the Marketing Team who travels 40 km a day just to reach her office stated that she will willingly resume but commutation is a huge pain for her. She further described the issues related to lack of work environment at home, stale interactions on video calls and name-sake brainstorming sessions that can be easily resolved from her office desk.
A group of married employees from the Implementation Team who shares the responsibility to install the company’s product in clients’ systems advocated that they miss pre-pandemic times of collaborative approach, minimal query solving time and unmatched customer experience but on the other hand, enjoyed spending time with their spouse, the flexibility of working hours and a perfect work-life balance during pandemic.
We surveyed employees from different teams employed in different industries. We found some of the common inputs from employees or what they need post-pandemic
- Less escalation time, high response rate, flexibility in working hours, and better coordination with team members and other colleagues
- Employee engagement activities to break the ice with new joiners and bring back the work vibes at the workplace
- ‘Learning with working culture’ to reskill and upskill knowledge for improving customer experience
- Innovative workspaces to sit comfortably, take meetings, resolve issues on client’s calls and feel lively after getting back to office space
- New policies and approaches to maintain emotional well being along with work-life balance
P.S. As per our exploration, employees will miss working from home, experimenting with new passions and spending time with their families. But, they are looking forward to meeting their work families, bringing efficiency to the workplace and improving coordination amongst them.
How Employers can be ready for the Future of Work?
As the impacts of the pandemic are dawning, most organizations are getting inspired by leaders, requesting employees’ feedback, redefining standards and regulations and whatnot, to start the new financial year with full zeal and zest. Employers’ end goal is to sustain their best employees, improve attrition rate and maintain consistency in the headcount of their organization.
An organization is a mix of employees with different marital statuses- single, newly married, new parents and much more. So, to accommodate most of the employees, no matter which policy is adopted, employers require a blend of tech-led and people-centric approach.
To be future-ready, employers can harness the power of technology for employee-driven policies to-
- Know the pulse or mood of your employees, irrespective of the working model, to upscale employee engagement activities and ultimately maximize output
- Manage flexible schedules in a streamlined and automated manner without affecting the payroll calculations, security of confidential data and performance review insights
- Maintain asset lifecycle to keep the account of every asset allocated, requested and returned for the purpose of creating final demands of purchase and sale
- Nurture employee lifecycle from onboarding to offboarding in a hassle-free manner without tampering with the employee experience
- Update performance review methods, map KPIs and KRAs and leave no task unaccounted at the time of appraisal
To seize the opportunities of the hybrid model, encourage employees to return to work and be the motivating light of your employees, follow the people-centric approach by focusing on-
- Re-engagement Activities
- Random Zumba Sessions
- Face-to-Face Surveys
- Redesigning workspace
- Flexible Working Patterns
- Medical Benefits
- Reward and Recognition
- Employee Wellness Activities
We have experienced it all in this “Era of Employees”– the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Evaluation, that ultimately led to the Great Fear.
Employees have learnt new ways of connecting, communicating and collaborating while working from home. Though they miss the opportunities discussed at coffee stations, and brainstorming sessions in conference rooms, the celebration of every follower count increased on social media, which could be possible only when they return to work.
It’s a time that employers scrutinize their preferences and align with the choices of employees for striking the balance between their needs and that of their people.
“Think and Act” to ensure efficiency, agility and security of your company and what works best in favour of your employees.