You want your employees to return to the office but many of them are highly resistant. But what’s really behind workers’ attachment to their work-from-home lifestyle, and how can they be persuaded to return? The results of a new survey from Digital.com might surprise you.
Kids and Commutes Are Major Factors
Digital.com surveyed 1,000 workers and when asked to rank the biggest factors making them reluctant to return to work, respondents cited children first, and commutes second. These results point to the need to craft parent-friendly policies and highlight why remote work and hybrid and flexible policies are so prized by workers.
Other Roots of Return-to-Office Resistance
Other findings from the survey were more surprising, including:
- 75% of workers cited wanting to be close to their pets during the workday. We all know that pet adoptions have soared during the pandemic, sparking big growth in animal training and pet foods. But the flipside of all those cuddly cats, dogs and assorted iguanas is that workers have grown accustomed to spending time with their beloved pets.
- 72% of workers surveyed have grown attached to the comforts of their home routine, including being able to nap and exercise when they wish.
- 73% of respondents say they like to consume media like music, television shows and movies during the workday (a finding that probably has a number of managers wanting to expedite the return-to-work plan!).
- 62% of respondents have anxiety about changes in their appearance, not having the right clothing, or weight gain during the pandemic.
The Changing Nature of Work
Even before the COVID pandemic upended office life, many organizations were considering making working hours more flexible. Now that managers are crafting return-to-work plans, they are working with a more diverse range of options, including hybrid and fully remote setups. At the most extreme end of the scale, organizations like WordPress are carving out fully asynchronous workforces that meet in one place once a year.
Incentives for Returning to the Office
While we know that work-from-home really can work and can improve productivity, there are reasons for wanting your employees on site, from building team camaraderie to providing face-time with important clients.
Marquee companies like Apple and Google have, over the years, developed innovative strategies for keeping their employees engaged with office life, a trend we expect to continue as employers vie for great talent in a tight market.
Why Non-Monetary Compensation is Important
We all know that money is a primary driver of decision making but when we shift our point of view to consider what keeps employees loyal (and employers ahead of the “great talent migration“), non-monetary compensation can play a big role.
We surveyed our talent pool to find out what non-monetary factors were most important to their satisfaction. While work-from-home flexibility was at the top of the list, there are a number of other extras that are worth considering when figuring out how you can incentivize returning to the office.
Key Takeaways for Overcoming Return-to Office Resistance
The Digital.com survey reveals that the most in-demand employers will offer as much flexibility as possible in crafting their return-to-work plans. In addition to offering employees flex-time and work-from-home options, consider the following perks that are tailored for some of the objections above:
- Parent-friendly policies around leave and flex-time should obviously be prioritized whenever possible.
- Pet-friendly offices or bring-your-pet-to-work-day: in recent decades a number of businesses have become more pet-friendly. Because this is a major driver of employees wanting to work from home, consider a more pet-friendly policy if it works in your office environment.
- Nap pods and office gyms: while these are perks that have been around for a while, they are worth revisiting based on the feedback from the survey.
- Mental health resources: with all of the anxiety around appearance and returning to work, proactive managers are weaving mental health resources into a number of layers of their operations from telehealth, on-site meditation classes and mental health days and days in which workers are directed not to look at emails.