Working from home sounds great to many employees, and the pandemic has taught us that being physically present in an office isn’t always necessary. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that among those who are currently working from home all or most of the time, 78% say they’d like to continue to do so after pandemic precautions end.
Some employees are finding, however, that they miss the camaraderie of their colleagues and the structure of an office environment.
In either case, is now the time to get employees back in person? If so, what will make the workplace attractive?
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently reported that employers are recognizing the need to have people back in the office. Making a return-to-work plan that can be adjusted according to employee feedback and workflow is a good idea. Such plans might include a proposed schedule for in-person office days and remote workdays. Employees should feel informed of why decisions are made and be able to offer input along the way.
SHRM predicts that enthusiasm for returning to the workplace will pick up once enough workers come back. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) can be a significant motivator.
Stephen Miles, founder and CEO of The Miles Group, told SHRM that, “Above 40% [of workers in the office] seems to be the magic percentage when ‘office FOMO’ kicks in, and people see they are missing out on something,” he said. “They don’t want to be part of the ‘out’ group.”
Employers can curb turnover by helping employees connect on different or deeper levels. “At a time when people are questioning how they spend their time and how they make a living, HR and business leaders should take a step back and think about ways to make work less transactional – and more human,” Chris French, EVP of Customer Strategy at Workhuman, told HR Morning.
He notes that executives and front-line managers can put together a social and professional plan that includes appreciation, recognition, and fun and meaningful events and interactions.
One executive told SHRM, “I have to say, the energy in the office when we came back was so palpable. People were excited to see their colleagues, and they were excited to get to work together again.”
Creating a positive work environment that speaks to employees’ emotional needs may be one key to getting people back in the office.