Employers who want to have employees in the office more often may face a struggle

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Pedestrians in the financial district of San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, May 9, 2022. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, companies are streamlining or scrapping regulations about how often workers must be at their desks for fear of losing talent . Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Kathryn VaselCNN business

(CNN) – Many employers have Make clear that they want their workers return to the office – at least part of the time.

But some employees, who have been working almost exclusively remotely for the past two years, are wondering why they need to return to in-person work in the first place. fuel prices are high. covid Infections are increasing (again). They have been productive at home and when they go to the office, few of their colleagues are there.

“Employees really want flexibility and choice about where, when and how they work. They don’t want to be told, ‘You have to be here these days.’ They want choice,” said Ryan Luby, Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company.

earlier this year, found a poll by Pew that among workers who have an office away from home, 61% said they choose not to go to work.

Whether it’s a hybrid model or requiring employees to come five days a week, employers need to show the value of asking employees to commute back to the office when employees have successfully worked from home for two years to have.

“If the only thing that’s different about their day is they’re going to be home less … and they come into the office and there’s nobody else or there aren’t people to work with, then it’s about.” scratching your head as to what the point of it is,” he said Vanessa Matsis-McCready, Associate General Counsel and Head of Human Resources at Engage PEO.

Matsis-McCready added that offering alternative care for children or the elderly Employees can help with the transition. Even smaller perks like paying for podcast subscriptions to make the commute more comfortable, free meals at the office, in-person study sessions, and social gatherings can also help keep workers coming back.

Are companies cracking down?

In one of the more extreme cases, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is said to have been sent an email to employees who say they have to be in the office at least 40 hours a week or have to leave the company.

However, many companies are still not enforcing the mandates. However, according to Brian Kropp, Distinguished Vice President in Gartner’s HR practice, they encourage employees to come.

“The way almost every business follows up is, Did you swipe your ID when you walked through the doors, didn’t you?”

But for the most part, he said it’s too early for companies to crack down on employees who don’t put in the required on-site time.

“At this point, they don’t actively fire people who don’t come often enough. “It’s much more, ‘Let’s talk to them and find out what the problem is.'”

But that might not last too long.

“The idea that if someone really just doesn’t want to be in the office, a year ago a company could try to work with them, but now it’s a little bit more of ‘okay, do we want that for our business? ‘ And if they don’t, they might not fit together anymore, and that’s okay,” Matsis-McCready said.

Find the right balance

Some companies try to accommodate employees halfway.

Progyny, a fertility benefits administration company, first opened its Manhattan office in September with a plan assigned by headquarters staff come to the office five days a week. The company gave workers three months’ notice and, anticipating resistance, used the first two weeks as a test.

After returning to the office full-time, workers met with their supervisors, and managers held check-in meetings to see how employees were adjusting. One of the main concerns for workers was childcare due to the uncertainty surrounding closures.

“Obviously nobody liked the five days and we expected that,” said Cassandra Pratt, senior vice president, people at Progyny. “We got the feedback that confirmed our train of thought that hybrid is better.”

Two weeks later, the company changed its policy and asked employees to come into the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays instead.

Still, some employees wondered why they were even coming back when Pratt says they’ve been doing well remotely for the past two years.

“Here we came back to the fact that our culture is really an office culture, and we think these informal talks and the face-to-face interactions are important to us,” Pratt said. “And we’ve seen a significant increase in collaboration. It also de-escalated some concerns and tensions and some group dynamics by being personal.”

The company expanded the types of roles that can work fully remotely — but there are some caveats. Executives must be able to come into the office three days a week, and directors and vice presidents leading teams in New York cannot work remotely full-time. This requirement meant having to fire some managers.

“We had a [few] People whose jobs really needed to be in the office given the height and scope of their role, and they’d moved and we couldn’t take their role remotely,” Pratt said.

Showpad offering software which aims to help companies increase sales, surveyed its employees before reopening its offices last summer. The results showed that the majority of employees did not want to be in the office to the more than a day or two a week. And 13% of workers wanted to work from home full-time.

While employees were clear about their preference, some company executives initially feared the lack of face-to-face time could hurt its culture, Chief People Officer Kelli Koschmann said.

“Obviously there was a tension between preference and business need and impact,” Koschmann said.

Now it is decided at team level how often employees come.

“[There] There have been a lot of conversations at executive level about how good looks are when it comes to creating the business impact we want to have and how being in the office plays a role in that.”

How important is it when asses sit in office seats?

Before implementing a firm policy for office work, digital workforce company Thoughtful Automation assesses whether there is a correlation between the performance of its employees and the number of days they spend in the office.

Founded in early 2020, the company started entirely remotely. But as it grew, it opened an office in Chicago and eventually gave workers an opportunity to relocate — and offered to pay for their moving expenses.

Now the majority of the company is in Chicago, and while some employees agreed to the move, CEO Alex Zekoff said they still didn’t come into the office as often as he’d like.

“At one of our all-hands meetings, we had to be very explicit… and we put in place a policy.” Currently, three days a week attendance is on average within expectation, two or fewer is considered below expectation, and four or five days per week exceed expectations.

Zekoff noted that the policy is still an experiment.

“We don’t actually know if anyone is coming in two days, is it less productive?” he said.

Although there is currently no set personal mandate, Zekoff said there have been some early signs of non-compliance.

“We’re going to have to deal with that slowly,” he said. “It was a little bit more of a direct conversation trying to understand what’s going on.”

Zekoff said they’ve also seen some signs that coming into the office more often improves collaboration and performance.

“[One] Team kind of didn’t get in as much as another team and we noticed a difference in team dynamics…the other team felt like they weren’t living up to their end of the bargain.”

But if the experiment shows that longer office hours don’t improve performance, Zekoff said he’s open to new policies.

“Politics should constantly evolve.”

The CNN Wire
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