Since the first lockdown, some employees have settled into the home office in such a way that they no longer want to return to the office. Others would like to escape the home office again faster than the Corona crisis allows. We provide you with a checklist on how to help employees get back to normality in the office.
It feels like half of all people have been working in a home office or on the move since March 2020. Under the German government's Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, which has been extended until June 30, 2021, companies are still obliged to offer this to their employees, provided there are no operational reasons for not doing so. Older professionals, especially city dwellers with families, often have fewer problems with working from home than their younger colleagues. After all, they may have just moved to the city after completing their studies or apprenticeship. Their initial salary is usually not enough for a large apartment, so they may have to "hang out" as a couple, both in the home office, on 30 or 40 square meters. For them, the office is all the more tempting again. But how can you motivate everyone to return? What can HR departments do in this regard? How can those willing to return - also in line with Corona measures such as the "federal emergency brake" - be made less afraid of contagion?
To anticipate the last point, there are the following options for companies, along with HR decision makers and works councils, during the pandemic:
Many companies also have a problem with home office - for all or large parts of the workforce. After the often surprisingly good experiences in the first year of COVID 19, they are no longer so concerned with being able to better control or "drive" their employees - according to the motto "trust is good, control is better.
What employers and their employees often lack, despite the possibilities of video chat in the home office, is genuine teamwork, old and young side by side, also in order to be able to learn from each other and inspire each other. And, as can be seen below, this can also be a decisive motivator to move away from the home office.
What companies, HR and specialist departments can do for employee retention to get home office employees out of the doldrums and keep them in line can be found in various news and blog articles from rexx systems. This includes virtual all-hands meetings and coffee breaks, as supported by the rexx suite with portal chat and the newly integrated video chat. The talent management software, which is also integrated, also offers a range of tools and options for coaching supervisors, for example, to motivate their workforce in and out of the home office and to keep them together as a team.
When it comes to the "drive" back to the office, people are naturally different. There are extroverts who only really blossom in a crowd, while introverts, who are otherwise rather inconspicuous, may only really show what they are capable of in the home office. The positive side of a home office can be the discovery of hidden talents.
In order to explore this and to get the workforce out of their home office frustration, the introduction of moderated, informal all-hands meetings or virtual coffee breaks has proven successful in some companies or teams. HR departments can make the case for making such coffee breaks a permanent part of the weekly schedule.
Coffee breaks are so important in the real office because they are the source of a lot of the run-of-the-mill chatter. And many employees, young and old, often find that difficult in the home office. Fittingly, a large social network has just received a lot of attention. The boss recently announced that she would sweeten the move to a new building for around 1,000 employees by, among other things, setting up a neighborhood pub and her own gym.
HR departments can also create their own surveys together with employee representatives. These surveys can also be conducted anonymously via employee portals or corresponding HR systems to alleviate employees' concerns that they will suffer disadvantages as a result of their votes or even lose their jobs. The content of such surveys can include the mood among the workforce, the percentage of employees who are willing to return, and their preferences regarding room layout and seating arrangements, as well as attendance times for multi-shift operations.
To what extent and how the more home-office-inclined can be lured back into the office certainly also depends on age, family situation and one's own temperament (see extroverts versus introverts). Whether having your own pub or gym will do the trick often depends on these factors as well. Shared yoga classes, lunches and after-work parties are also not necessarily universally popular and can become as dead after a while as some coffee breaks or all-hands meetings.
Parties are often an age thing, but not only. According to a chanson by Daliah Lavi, some younger people also find them "uncomfortable" to the point of being dull, because they may feel even more excluded. The fact that employees are "comfortable" at home has not usually been confirmed, but many supervisors think so. Accordingly, they have to see how they can get their sheep back into the office. Employee wellness is a big issue today, but how it is received by employees is always a question of type. HR departments can try to influence the selection of offerings and find the right balance to appeal equally to all employees. Basically, however, the desire to leave the home office must be intrinsic. That is, the motivation must come from within.
Of course, superiors can also order this by "Order Mufti," but it is better to convince employees with these offers and with arguments. And it is very important to emphasize the "we" feeling even more than before. Teamwork from the home office may have worked for a while in Corona times, but it cannot be a permanent solution for many companies. Apart from compelling reasons such as customer visits, another argument in favor of being present is that the best ideas often emerge from personal discussions. It is also important to pick up on moods and literally "pick up" everyone.
But instead of trying to convince everyone with a corresponding circular email, the specialist and HR departments should make an effort to communicate in individual discussions how important the employees are for the company and the team and how important it is to work more side by side again and not in parallel. A good start would be to work on expectation management, for example to prepare employees for their return via a hotline. Wellness offers do the rest, but should also be chosen in the context of strengthening togetherness and the sense of community. Otherwise, the only option is the "Order Mufti," period.
However, one should first start in small steps with a few employees instead of with all of them. After all, Corona can also be an opportunity to make a completely new start in the office and to capture all employees much more than before.
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