Unable to Offer Work from Home? Here’s What You Can Do.
Many businesses can’t function without an in-person team, and now those employers are competing for workers who have never had more remote work opportunities to choose from.
The workforce has already been rocked by an unprecedented number of resignations, with many people transitioning to remote work opportunities. Jobs that allow employees to work remotely for some or all of the time receive seven times more applicants, CNBC reported.
That means businesses that require in-person work will need to do more if they want to attract and retain talented workers, but there’s still hope for in-person work.
How we benefit from in-person work
It’s important to acknowledge that going into the office or for work can help some people be more productive, set healthy boundaries, and form stronger professional relationships.
As people worked from home during the pandemic, many felt disconnected and isolated from their jobs and coworkers. Without those regular, face-to-face interactions that happen throughout a normal workday, company cultures suffered and people quit their jobs in record numbers.
Simply, being with the same people every day is a valuable way to build healthy relationships, resolve problems, and share ideas. That all got a lot harder when everyone left the office to work from home.
In-person work also makes it easier to set boundaries between our work lives and personal lives. This ability to physically distance ourselves from work can even prevent burnout and help manage stress for some.
Studies show that remote workers clock more hours and can even suffer from burnout if they always feel like they’re expected to be available and working.
5 ways to help people thrive in the office
Getting up and going to work used to be a fact of life, but the coronavirus pandemic changed that when it forced many people to work from home. Now, offices are opening back up and employers may need to make a few changes if they want to keep and retain workers in a post-pandemic workplace.
1. Offer flexible schedules
A typical 9-5 workday isn’t practical for everyone, and employers should understand that.
However, many companies expect workers to be in the office at a certain time. That traditional approach to the workday is one reason so many people left the workforce during the pandemic – and they aren’t eager to return to the office.
Try to find ways to let employees set their own hours. That could mean beginning the workday by answering calls and emails at home before dropping the kids off at school and coming into the office. Early birds can get to the office early and leave after lunch for an afternoon exercise class.
Although people still need to come into the office, a flexible schedule alleviates pressure on them to squeeze in their personal lives around the company’s schedule.
2. Set your workers up for easy commutes
In 2019, the average U.S. worker spent 27.6 minutes commuting one way to work, according to Census data. As people shifted to remote work, they quickly realized how much time they saved by cutting out the commute entirely.
New businesses should only set up shop in a practical location that’s easy to find. Even if you find a stellar office space in the heart of downtown, people won’t want to come to the office if traffic and parking are daily nightmares.
If you already have an office space, try to make the commute to work as easy – and as cheap – as possible.
Companies can offer a pre-tax commuter benefits program to help pay for transportation costs to and from work. Some cities like New York and Seattle legally mandate employers to offer these benefits, but companies anywhere can adopt their own commuter benefit program to attract workers back to the office.
Be sure your office has plenty of parking and bike storage so commuters don’t waste time trying to find a place to park when they arrive at the office.
3. Provide plenty of learning opportunities
Remote work may seem to be the hottest way to attract job applicants nowadays, but people will always value a company that invests in its employees.
While competitive pay and a robust benefits package are necessary, employees also want plenty of opportunities to learn and grow in an organization.
Help people improve their skills with regular training, access to educational resources, and memberships to professional organizations.
Take time to learn about your employees’ professional goals and interests. Empower supervisors to help their workers achieve what they want to accomplish and boost their skills.
That could mean more one-on-one mentoring, sending an employee to a school or organization for special training, or partnering with professional organizations where a worker can connect with others in their field.
Companies can also do little things to enrich employees’ lives. Consider purchasing corporate subscriptions to online learning platforms like Coursea or Pimsleur so employees can learn new skills that will benefit them in the workplace.
Working in person also naturally makes learning from coworkers easier. Encourage employees to team up on projects, teach each other new skills, and contribute their ideas.
4. Don’t skimp on the PTO
Many enjoy remote work for the freedom that comes with it, but working in the office every day can limit that sense of autonomy.
An employee shouldn’t feel like their job is holding them back from life, so make sure they have a chance to step away from work when they need a break.
Companies should review how much paid time off they offer workers and determine if it is competitive. Another consideration may be switching to an unlimited paid time off model. Unlimited paid time off doesn’t put a cap on vacation time so long as employees complete their work.
Surprisingly, critics of unlimited paid time off models say that workers tend to take fewer vacation days than they would under a standard paid time off structure. Supervisors should monitor their employees for signs of burnout or overwork, and encourage them to take time off if they’re prone to overworking.
5. Create a work environment people want to be in
If you don’t offer a positive and inviting work environment, people simply won’t want to come to the office.
But an inviting workspace isn’t created by setting up a ping-pong table in the break room or letting people wear jeans on Fridays.
Fill your office with tools and equipment that make it easier for your employees to complete tasks. For example, invest in the most up-to-date desktop computers and software to maximize office efficiency.
Consider changing your office layout to accommodate work style preferences. If teams need to collaborate throughout the day, arrange their workspaces in pods so they can easily communicate face-to-face. You can also create quiet areas for employees who need to be alone to focus on their work.
Also, make time for fun office activities and social gatherings to encourage stronger workplace relationships.
In-person work solutions: Conclusion
Despite the recent surge in remote work opportunities, there are still plenty of reasons to value in-person work arrangements.
Teams that come together every day form stronger bonds and contribute to a healthy corporate culture, which benefits both workers and organizations. As workers head back to the office, employers will need to explain what they’ll gain from from in-person work and come up with solutions to make the transition easier.