Work from home: Staff need to return to the office

Why employees must return to the office

Remote work has become so normalised employees now hold the balance of power in the return to work debate.

Employers will have to offer benefits and incentives to bring employees back to the office. The remote work experience has gone on for so long employees have created self-sufficient remote islands - and while it's now time for them to re-join the mainland, that process has to take place by degrees.

The past two years have stripped away the team ethos for many groups of employees, and companies have been left with individuals working in isolation, with no collaboration, innovation or cohesive productivity.

Workers are not investing in themselves if they remain working from home; they are missing out on career growth and development opportunities that have a flow-on effect to other parts of their lives. It's like COVID created this divorce from the workplace and now we are in mediation to create a reconnection. Companies need to offer their staff a new workforce experience, hybrid arrangements, flexibility and renewed career development and education. If companies want to retain their workforce, and reduce the risk of losing their skilled staff, they must create genuine reasons to return to the office.

How to get staff to return to the office:

  • Greater flexibility: Consider offering a nine-day fortnight or a reduced 35 hour week on a 38 hour salary, giving more flexibility to when and where people work.
  • Build a new workforce: Understanding your company's DNA will guide your business and help you to identify the skills and roles needed in the physical office. Assess your workforce to identify the gaps in skills, amplify abilities and justify a return to the office.
  • Career development: Employees need to know their company is invested in them.This can be achieved by paying for a degree or industry courses, and mapping out a career path.
  • Mentorships: Consider creating a dedicated mentor system in the company. Young people in particular, need exposure to business communications and access to networking and professional skills.
  • Wellbeing: The return to the office allows for socialisation and contact with others. Teamwork becomes more vibrant, engaging and collaborative and there is a shared purpose. Wellness packages can improve morale, boost productivity and loyalty and reduce employee days off.
  • Maureen Kyne is the principal of Maureen Kyne & Associates and is a workplace bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination specialist.
This story Why employees must return to the office first appeared on The Canberra Times.