Back to the Office? Your Employees Aren’t So Sure About It

With Covid-19 hitting the world over the last few years and everyone becoming accustomed to working remotely, if you and […]

Mark Jackson

President at SwagDrop

With Covid-19 hitting the world over the last few years and everyone becoming accustomed to working remotely, if you and your employees are experiencing social anxiety about returning to the workplace, you are not alone. 

Even if you’ve already previously dealt with office life, changing back can be challenging.

We have created this post to dive deeper into this situation and show you how to make the adjustment easier.

Remote Work vs Office Life

Remote work, sometimes known as the capacity to work from anywhere, at any time, was a full-fledged worldwide work trend long before Covid-19 caused many people to work from home.

In 2018, according to Forbes, it was believed that 50% of the US workforce would soon be working remotely. In Europe remote employees have increased from 7.7% to 9.8% in the last decade

Furthermore, many of today’s leading organizations provide full-time, part-time, or partial-time remote employment. 

Yet, remote employment or telecommuting, like any other work arrangement, has advantages and disadvantages.

Positives and negatives of working remotely

Positive outcomes of working remotely can be the following:

  • Increased Productivity:

According to a report by Owl Labs, people who work from home are more productive than their colleagues who work in an office. 

There are many factors for remote employees’ increased productivity; one such reason is that there are fewer distractions.

When you operate remotely, no one will come up to your desk to discuss minor concerns or have a debate that is irrelevant to you.

Furthermore, many remote jobs enable you to work outside of the traditional 9-5 office hours. 

When you are more productive, you can work at various times of the day.

Also, employers won’t complain if you have a flexible work schedule as long as you complete your tasks on time.

  • Improved work-life balance:

Working from home allows you to spend more time with your family in addition to enabling you to create a timetable to strike the ideal balance between work and your personal life.

Moreover, you can save a significant amount of time by not commuting to work. 

As a result, you can use the time you’ve gained to spend meaningful time doing the things you love or investing in a new hobby.

Furthermore, remote employees seem to be more pleased with their careers if they take some additional time each day to manage their personal lives.

  • Smaller carbon imprint and more money savings:

Another significant benefit of working remotely is saving more money each year.

Consider all the expenditures you spend on transportation, parking fines, car upkeep, eating lunch at a nice restaurant, etc. 

All of these savings become a reality when you work from home.

In addition, you lower your carbon footprint by not driving to work since you are not using your vehicle; it will help you do your part to preserve the environment, and it will also help you save gas in the future.

The disadvantages of working remotely can be as follows:

  • Communication disruptions:

Proper communication among coworkers is one of the most critical aspects lacking in a remote work situation.

It’s so simple to contact any coworker in the workplace anytime you want to discuss anything.

However, as a remote worker, you have to connect with your team members through instant messaging and video calls.

While video conferencing might be helpful, it will never replace chatting with someone sitting right next to you.

The lack of good communication among distant teams is likely to interfere with successful team cooperation.

  • Difficulty to maintain motivation:

It might be tough to remain motivated and reach your objectives when there is no active monitoring, and your coworkers are not working around you.

In fact, this has always been one of the most challenging aspects of remote employment as anyone can develop a laid-back attitude and a delaying tendency.

Unlike working remotely, the workplace was developed as a space to perform specific tasks.

Another distinguishing feature is the employee’s complete separation from home; working from home can cause stress and an absence of connection from the workplace. 

Having the same space where you can “work” and “rest” makes a lot of people unable to separate and take a proper break from their working day.

Even though remote work has been implemented successfully in many nations, many specialists hope to return to their office setting because they miss working with other coworkers, sharing their daily lives, and being inspired in spaces especially aimed at stimulating their creativity.

Advantages and disadvantages of working at the office

Benefits can include:

  • Time management:

Time management is one of the most fantastic and helpful things an office setting can teach you. 

Offices often have set work, lunch, and tea break times.

When you start working in an office, you are forced to work according to a timetable, hence your mind gradually begins to process in accordance with the working hours specified.

  • Enhancing interpersonal skills:

Another advantage of working in an office is knowing how to act in front of people.

When you are in a crowd, you instantly become attentive and aware of your surroundings

Also, this teaches you to learn about professional relationships and how to sustain them.

Your communication and interpersonal abilities are improved, as these factors are critical to the environment in which you operate and to yourself.

Moreover, people start to conduct themselves like professionals to develop their reputation, since discipline is required to complete talks with employers and employees.

Working in an office setting also poses some setbacks and a few drawbacks to this job prospect that you should be aware of.

Here are a few negative aspects you should keep in mind:

  • Can harm relationships:

Dealing with the same individuals in your workplace daily can sometimes ruin your connection with them. 

This could arise due to covert competition among employees or because seeing the same faces every day becomes tedious.

  • Payment can be lower: 

If you work for a small firm, your compensation may be lower, as you will normally only be paid more if you work for a global firm and have a very high position.

13 Interesting Return to the Office Statistics

The most recent data on workers returning to work shows a picture of anxiety yet resilience.

As the globe has adjusted to the Covid-19 pandemic, workplaces have been gradually reopening, as are businesses’ requests for employees to return to work. 

According to a LaSalle Network poll, up to 70% of firms expected to have workers back in the office by the end of 2021. 

Here are some recent statistics: 

  • 12% of employees mentioned that the transition to hybrid employment has improved their mental health. (Source: Travelperk)
  • The office will remain but its function will change. 
    • Unfortunately, less than one in five CEOs want to return to work as it was before the pandemic. 
    • The remainder is debating how broadly to expand remote work possibilities, with just 13% of CEOs willing to give up the office permanently. 
    • Meanwhile, 87% of workers think the workplace is vital for team collaboration and connection development. (Source: PwC’s US Remote Work Survey)
  • Workers with the least experience need the office the most. 
    • Respondents with the least professional experience (0-5 years) are more likely to wish to spend more time at the workplace.
    • 34% of respondents with 0-5 years’ experience want to be distant no more than one day each week, compared to just 20% of all participants. 
    • In addition, workers with the least experience are more likely to feel less productive when working remotely (34% vs. 23%); they appreciate meetings with managers and business training programs more than their senior peers. (Source: PwC’s US Remote Work Survey)
  • Many companies wonder what to anticipate as the change to more virtual contacts occurs and as more organizations begin to envision a return-to-workplace transition. 
    • 32% are concerned about “maintaining business culture,” and 26% are worried about how the return to work would affect performance
Image Source: Deloitte
  • Furthermore, other issues raised were “successful teamwork” (19%), fairness and equitability among remote, hybrid, and onsite workers (13%), and employees’ desire to return to in-person work after working remotely for roughly a year (10%).  (Source: Deloitte)
  • Females are somewhat more likely than men to favor three or more days of remote work: 58% vs. 51%.  (Source: PwC’s US Remote Work Survey)
  • Even if all government vaccine restrictions are abolished, 38% of companies will continue to demand immunizations for workers who work in the office, while 18% will not, and 44% have not yet decided.
    • In addition, 50% of firms having summer internship programs in 2022-2023 will have in-person programs, 48% will have hybrid programs, and 2% will have remote programming. (Source: Pfnyc)
  • Following the pandemic, 78% of companies intend to use a hybrid strategy, with just 10% requiring daily attendance. 
    • The remaining 9% will depend on department discretion and personnel judgment (4% ). (Source: Pfnyc)
  • 44% of managers feel they have the required tools to operate well in a hybrid setting, while 31% are unsure. (Source: HubSpot)
  • 91% of businesses encourage workers to return to the workplace, and over two-thirds (64%) give at least one reward to those who do.
    • Rewards can be as follows: Social activities (50%), free or cheap meals (43%), transportation subsidies (13%), and child-care assistance (10 %) are all common incentives. (Source: Pfnyc)
  • The majority of employees (83%) favor a hybrid work arrangement, but a number of variables impact their capacity to adapt whether they are onsite or off.
  • On an average workday, 53% of workers at businesses with less than 500 employees have returned to work. 
    • By September, average daily attendance is predicted to reach 59%. (Source: Pfnyc)
  • 91% feel a hybrid work style will increase workforce diversity. (Source: AT&T)
  • While 79% say hybrid working is good for increasing productivity, 45% believe it limits innovation and 54% believe it directly impacts collaboration. (Source: AT&T)

6 Things to Do to Help your Employees Return to the Office Stress-Free

According to a 2021 study, every respondent was concerned about returning to in-person employment. 

77% attributed their nervousness to exposure to the virus, while others were concerned about the commute and inflexibility of working full-time. 

In addition, further studies have shown that many found the commute to work more stressful than the job itself. 

Insights like these should be addressed by businesses who wish to make the transition back to work simply for their workers.

Let’s look at ways to make the return to work less stressful.

1. Effective communication

Some of your workers may be irritated or perplexed as to why they must return to the workplace. 

Hence, you must explain why you’re returning to the workplace. 

This creates a transparent and open communication channel between top management and your staff. 

It also demonstrates to workers that there is a purpose and decision-making process behind such a change and that it was not undertaken just to lure people back into the office. 

Moreover, take the time to clarify what could change regarding their work schedules and objectives (if anything will change), and be ready to talk to workers who have questions.

2. Ask for feedback

Your workers’ degrees of anxiety are likely to vary based on their unique situations and worries. 

If feasible, you should meet workers where they are and engage everyone in the dialogue. 

Therefore, allow workers to communicate their concerns and questions when developing policies to help alleviate worry. 

Also, consider their comments and ask them what, if anything, may make their return to the workplace smoother, and offer adjustments where available.

3. Educate leaders on how to support their staff

Leaders and managers will bear a large portion of the burden for ensuring a seamless return to work. 

Some workplaces are thinking of organizing virtual “reentry boot camps”, including coping with uncertainty, creating strong resilience, establishing emotional intelligence, and managing hybrid teams. 

With these insights, managers can model necessary behaviors and share them with their teams to enable new ways of working.

4. Try new working processes

Many businesses recognize that they will be unable to return their staff to work precisely as before. 

Companies are starting to realize that working from home is now part of their business strategy and helps both the company and its workers. 

Most of us believe that a hybrid working paradigm, in which some days are spent at the office and others at home, is the best answer

According to a PwC poll, 44% of workers desire to work remotely three days a week or more after the pandemic. 

5. Refamiliarizing staff with the company’s vision

Employers are increasing employee engagement by investing in workplace culture, including anything from hosting social events to designing collaborative, tech-enabled workplaces that allow seamless interactions, including in-office and remote colleagues.

By re-engaging their workers, organizations stand to benefit from employees who feel more satisfied and empowered, and grasp how their work purpose is organically tied to their organization’s mission.  

Hence, this results in increased creativity, productivity, and, eventually, corporate development.

6. Take care of your own and your staff’s mental health

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, depression rates in the UK have more than doubled. 

This has sparked fears of a mental health crisis in the UK. While this is concerning, and your employees can feel pressed to return to work, it is critical to prioritize mental health if you have any worries. 

Many workplaces have specialized mental health first aiders, and the effect of Covid-19 has led to more excellent knowledge and tolerance of mental health problems, allowing employees to communicate their concerns with their employers directly.

Furthermore, employers must address their workers’ health and work-life balance problems.

All indicators are that the workplace will not return to its former glory.

So the most significant way forward is to accept flexibility; listening to your workers’ concerns may help define your return-to-work policy, and you can work together to build a unique working environment.

Final Thoughts

Feeling nervous about returning to the office doesn’t imply that you are weak or have inadequate coping abilities. 

Companies should be flexible enough to manage the change and not force anyone to hit the office until feeling ready. 

We hope the techniques suggested here inspire you to make the transition as seamless as possible and better understand your coworkers’ viewpoints and how they can manage the journey back.

If you have any further questions, please reach out anytime as we love to see your messages. 

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