The rapid shift to remote work that was brought about by the pandemic naturally led many managers to question whether or not it was worth ever returning to the office. Many employees performed better, and reported being more satisfied with their remote-work setups. Those charged with planning return-to-work strategies imagined it being a long and messy endeavor that would be filled with convoluted safety measures.
The rapid roll-out of the COVID 19 vaccination program has changed the thinking in corporate America, however. For one thing, it’s been tremendously successful in driving down infection rates and sparking a rapid return to pre-pandemic life. Office planners who were mapping out partitions and social distance are suddenly faced with a new set of guidelines from the CDC: guidelines that make returning to in-person work a much more attractive proposition.
So how do the rapid shifts in the past couple of months mean for those planning office operations? Read on to find out more about how companies are incentivizing a return to the physical office.
What are other companies doing?
While the labor market has changed quite a bit during the pandemic, the competition for talent remains quite tight. In crafting your return-to-work plan, it’s worth taking the temperature of others in your industry.
- Apple’s Tim Cook recently announced a hybrid setup for employees at the luxe Cupertino campus: three days a week on site Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Wednesday and Friday being an optional day at the office. Employees can elect to work remotely an additional two weeks per year to foster flexibility and work-life balance. Some managers will be required to work on site five days a week.
- JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon made headlines with his aggressive return-to-work position, see as a bellwether for much of the industry. Dimon wants his staff back working full-time in the fall. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman told the Financial Times: “If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York.”
- Companies like Twitter, Salesforce and Ford are planning to stay remote forever.
Pros and Cons of various options for the post-COVID office landscape
The incentives for returning to the office will be different for different categories of employees. Consider the following types of arrangements and their impact on workers:
- Fully remote: we’ve found in our past research that many talent employees want this option. It cuts down on their commuting cost and offers more flexibility in where they can live and do their jobs. On the other hand, this option can be challenging for parents.
- Hybrid: a controversial topic among employees, this option has people in the office several days a week. The pros are having a dedicated workspace and colleagues you can bounce ideas off of nearby. Cons are that it can be complicated to execute.
- Onsite: The choice of several New York financial institutions, this option is also the most controversial.
Crafting an effective plan
We’ve written previously about crafting an effective return-to-work strategies relies on employee buy-in. The most complicated component of the planning is finding ways to understand what your employees actually need and how to match those needs.
Match incentives to employee needs
Flexibility is the name of the game in the post-pandemic return-to-work landscape:
- Flexibility in working arrangement
- Openness to remote work
- Recognition of the concerns of parents and caregivers