When it comes to actually deciding on a “return to the office,” employers, employees, and office space vendors have toyed with several complex considerations for the past year and a half.
Here are some factors HR professionals should consider before they ink an office building lease in a post-COVID-19 world.
Don’t force a fit
Wellness research and solutions firm Vitality Group underscored the dangers of one-size-fits-all approaches to COVID-19-era work models in an October 2021 report.
Of the knowledge workers surveyed, 6% of respondents said they’d like to work from home one day a week; 15% said two days a week; 14% said three days a week, and 13% said four days a week.
That’s compared to 22% of respondents who said they did not want to work from home at all and 30% who said they’d like to work remotely every day of their workweek.
Stats from the Vitaly report also support the ongoing narrative that employees would quit if forced to give up remote work: 60% of fully remote respondents and 45% of hybrid respondents told Vitality they’d dip if forced to return to the office full-time.
Define what ‘office space’ represents
The definition of work as the world once knew it has evolved beyond recognition in the past 18 months.
It is increasingly necessary now, for HR professionals not just to reimagine “the office” but redefine its significance in the company workflow. The office today, is merely a tool, more than a dedicated place.
87% of respondents to Vitality’s recent survey revealed that they felt some anxiety regarding a return to a physical work location; 36% said they were feeling extreme anxiety. A hybrid working environment is a preferred option, rather than a complete return to the physical office.
Regarding hybrid work arrangements, conversations must ideally be collaborative between HR teams, CFOs, and other C-suite execs and employees in a company.
In this ever-shifting world, HR personnel needs to be adaptive. Instead of playing blindly with employees’ work preferences, people teams can simply collect and apply data. HR teams could review the pulse of their workforce regularly. This would give them a firm foundation on which to base their return to office decisions.
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