Is it the end of WFH?
The global workforce underwent a profound transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, with remote work becoming the new norm for many. As a result, companies adapted to a digital-first approach, allowing employees to work from the comfort of their homes.
However, as the pandemic subsides and the world attempts to regain a semblance of normality, some CEOs and businesses are predicting the end of remote work.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons behind this shift and what companies are doing to encourage employees to return to the office.
Encouraging In-Office Work for Gathering
Amidst a workforce that has grown accustomed to remote work, employers are navigating the delicate task of bringing employees back to the office. Some, like Sara Murdock, the director of people and culture at Steinberg Hart, are implementing a hybrid approach. At Steinberg Hart, remote work is allowed, but physical presence is encouraged during critical meetings, training sessions, and collaborative work. This approach seeks to leverage the benefits of in-person interactions for essential team dynamics while maintaining the flexibility of remote work for routine tasks.
Considering the Impact on Productivity
Amanda Webster, the COO of Fund&Grow, witnessed the drawbacks of a fully remote workforce during the pandemic. Employee morale suffered, work-life balance became challenging, and efficiency dipped. As a result, Fund&Grow now limits remote work to instances where it’s medically necessary or approved in advance. They’ve found that being in the office fosters efficiency, boosts morale, and provides employees with the support and technology they need to succeed.
At Relay Payments, a fintech company in Atlanta, Chief People Officer Amy Zimmerman believes that being in the office a few days a week is crucial for the company’s competitive advantage. Real-time collaboration, problem-solving, and onboarding new team members are all enhanced through in-person interactions, making it vital for their business model.
Offering Commuting Allowances
The transition back to the office may deter some employees who’ve grown accustomed to remote work. To ease this transition, some companies, like Steve Feiner’s ABF Group, are providing commuting allowances to alleviate the additional costs of returning to the office. While technology has enabled remote work, the value of face-to-face interactions for brainstorming, collaborative projects, and team-building activities is recognised.
Focusing on Relationship Building
One of the essential benefits of in-person work is the opportunity to build and nurture relationships among employees. Amy Zimmerman at Relay Payments takes full advantage of in-office days to strengthen the bonds between team members. They organise activities, cater lunches, and facilitate shared experiences to foster a strong company culture.
On remote work days, internal messaging platforms are utilised to ensure that remote employees still engage and collaborate, preserving the sense of connection and camaraderie.
Balancing Business and Employee Needs
In a rapidly evolving work landscape, companies are taking a balanced approach, working alongside employees to determine the best path forward. They’re not necessarily demanding full-time in-person work but rather engaging in a dialogue to understand what enables their teams to do their best work.
It is suggested leaders should delve into what truly motivates their teams and engage in deep employee listening. The future of work, according to Steve Feiner, is flexible. Technological advancements in communication and collaboration tools have opened doors for redefining traditional work structures, ensuring that businesses can adapt to both their operational needs and their employees’ well-being.
In conclusion, the post-pandemic world of work is indeed evolving. While a majority of CEOs anticipate a return to full-time in-office work, the focus remains on finding a balance that accommodates the changing expectations and needs of employees, all while ensuring that businesses continue to thrive in this dynamic environment. The key, as highlighted by these companies, is adaptability and a commitment to prioritising both business requirements and employee well-being.