Now that COVID is more manageable and vaccines are widely available, many companies are trying to persuade employees to return to the office. However, business as usual is no longer possible. No one is returning to 2019 norms. As a result, HR leaders are looking for ways to make RTO and in-office days for the hybrid workplace more appealing.
Discover the approach of some employers:
Brainstorming and Collaboration
Thanks to the work of columnist Michael Arena, HR leaders, who read HR Exchange Network content, are aware of the Neighborhood Effect and how collaboration is less effective when done remotely. A primary reason for employers to invite workers back into the office is to brainstorm and collaborate on projects. The thinking is that asynchronous, “head-down” work can be done at home, whereas creative tinkering, ideation, and project collaborations should be done in groups in person.
Some organizations, like the Kraft Heinz Company, are actually redesigning their workspace to delineate its new purpose. For instance, at Kraft Heinz, HR leaders are creating open spaces with mobile furniture and tools designed to help people brainstorm.
Training and Mentoring
Some people have been surprised to learn that many members of Gen Z would like to return to the office, at least for part of the time. The reason is that they would like to learn from veterans. They want to see and be seen. Getting face time with managers and leaders could be important to them, so they can prove themselves and gear up for the future.
Indeed, employers may be able to sway employees to return to the office for training and mentorship opportunities. These are chances for teaching skillsets, networking, and orientation. Fast Company recently suggested learning and development and networking would be good ways to attract people, especially young workers, back to the office. While virtual learning has improved vastly, especially since the pandemic began, many people consider learning from someone in person to be a privilege. Therefore, it may attract people back out into the world.
Socializing is another good reason to invite people back to the office. After all, many people felt isolated during the pandemic. They are seeking opportunities to be with other humans without a screen in front of them. Some people may have started working for an organization while everyone was working remotely. They might want to see everyone in person now that it is safer.
In addition, HR leaders are trying to better engage employees in response to the Great Resignation and the need that many felt to quit their jobs. Providing opportunities to socialize is one way to help people engage with the company and the individuals on their team.
The key to success is to allow for flexibility. HR leaders should realize that they do not have to push for RTO or WFH. Instead, they can adopt a hybrid model, but they should use logic to create a schedule.
Many experts have expressed their disdain for requiring employees show up to the office for an arbitrary number of days during a given week. Instead, they should be intentional and provide purposeful, in-person gatherings. Brainstorming and innovation, training and mentorship or networking, and socializing are good reasons to insist people meet in the office.