HR departments tasked with getting homeworkers back to the office may need to overcome resistance. Here are our pointers.
This spring marked the end of two years of frantic juggling for HR teams. Having put so much energy into the maintenance of something vaguely resembling Business As Usual, we had anticipated a joyful Return To Work.
Instead, we’ve been flattened by colleagues stampeding for the exits, maxing their holiday entitlements, and taking every available opportunity to keep up the practice of working from home.
The simple truth is that Britain’s workforce is out of the commuting habit. Those companies who want staff to come back to the office face a battle…and we’re on the front line.
Whatever shall we do? Well, here are five suggestions for UK personnel departments.
- Do like Napoleon
One of the quotable Corsican strategist’s best-known sayings was that “an army marches on its stomach”. Napoleon was famously concerned with his troops’ physical wellbeing. (Indeed, according to some authorities, he invented the thin, light, stowable baguette loaf so his army could enjoy fresh bread while on the move.)
While baked goods innovations are probably beyond the scope of the average HR department, there’s no doubt that providing free food sends powerful signals to workers.
Even something as simple as a lunchtime sandwich delivery can make a difference, especially if you make it into a sit-down affair. If you have a kitchen or canteen that can be pressed into service, how about convening morning meetings over an 08:30 power breakfast? Everyone likes to have a seat at the table…especially if there’s a bacon butty in the offing.
- Architected solutions
If you follow the US business news, you’ll be aware of the ongoing arms race between Silicon Valley players to provide the single most mindblowing office interior. (Present front runner is Uber, whose employees can boast of accessing a “wellness center with hanging swing seats”, the greenery surroundings of which were apparently designed to make them feel like they’re in a tree house.)
Although a full-scale workplace remake of this kind is likely out of the question, you may have more opportunities for remodelling than you realise. For example: a startup of our acquaintance talked their landlords into astroturfing a large but little-used shared mezzanine. The outcome was a thriving lunchtime inter-company five-a-side league that totally transformed the culture of the building.
- Transports of delight
If you want to lure employees back to the office, why not help them get from A to B?
Car schemes and vouchers for public transport are nothing new, of course, but improved networking and geolocation have made newer, better options available. Participation in a shared e-scooter scheme like those operated by Zipp, Voi and other CoMoUK members is likely to work out more cost-effective than a leaseback agreement…and it will boost your company’s green credentials, too.
- Furry friends
When homeworkers talk about shifts in their work-life balance, some of them may really be saying “Can’t leave Tibbles!” An amazing number of pets joined UK households at the start of the pandemic, putting their owners on the spot now that lockdown is behind us.
You might offer your pet-owning colleagues a “pet stipend” to cover the cost of dog-walkers or cat-sitters. Or you might even consider setting up an office pet creche. Booful!
- Beyond hybrid working
Many pundits are telling us the old-style 9to5 is a thing of the past. The cutting edge of work-life rethinks is to be found among the advocates of the four-day work week, subject of a previous edition of this blog. (Don’t knock it – participating companies in the UK, US, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand have all reported considerable benefits from the switch.)
But, if a Friday shutdown is out of the question, you might consider the lighter alternatives: flexible schedules, increased time off, and/or expanded sick leave.
When you’re rethinking your schedules, it’s a racing certainty that leave planning and work scheduling issues will come to the fore. LeavePlanner’s dedicated software is a powerful ally at such times. Give us a ring to learn more.