The Big Question: Should We Bring Employees Back to the Office?

Should employees return to the office, or is it better to retain a virtual and/or hybrid schedule? With apologies to William Shakespeare, that is the question being batted around by organizations of all sizes, and across all industries, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the workplace. 

One thing is clear: there is no one-size-fits-all answer. What’s good for one company and its employees won’t necessarily work for another. Businesses must weigh a variety of factors, and in the end, have concrete reasons behind their decision. Here are several considerations that can help guide a choice that’s right for both the organization and its employees. 

Metrics are king

“Follow the science” has been a familiar refrain throughout the pandemic. So, it should come as no surprise that it’s important to apply that same principle when deciding whether to return to an in-office work environment.

Wherever possible, rely on metrics to inform your decision. Are projects being completed on time, and without a loss in quality? Are business development and sales goals being met? How has the bottom line been impacted? If performance or productivity have suffered due to remote or hybrid work, that’s a valid reason to return to an in-person workforce. However, if the numbers show things are on track, forcing employees to return to the office could backfire. If they feel they’re being brought back to be “watched over” because they can’t be trusted, that will certainly affect their motivation and work product. 

Do you trust your employees?

When organizations don’t trust their employees to get the job done, there are clearly bigger issues that need to be addressed. First and foremost, employers should determine whether they have the right people in the right places. In order to do that, they can ask themselves this question: “Under what circumstances would I be comfortable letting this person, or group of people, work remotely, either full- or part-time?”

Keep in mind, the “trust factor” transcends the pandemic. If the main reason for bringing employees back to the office boils down to a lack of trust that they’ll perform their jobs, employers aren’t likely to have their trust restored once workers are at their desks. In that case, it’s time to take a hard look at your team and the HR issues that exist. 

Planning and preparation for a return are essential

As companies weigh the pros and cons, they may come to the conclusion that it’s advantageous to return to an in-office workplace. If that is the case, the decision needs to be accompanied by a well-designed and clearly thought-out process that relies on facts, considers employees’ concerns, and allows for adjustments moving forward.

Alaant’s team of experts is here to help organizations successfully address workplace issues just like these. Is there a situation holding your organization back? If so, we’d love to work with you to create a solution that works. Contact us today and let’s get the conversation started!

About the Author

Miriam Dushane

Miriam Dushane, Managing Partner

Miriam is all in when it comes to doing whatever she can to help the Capital District grow and thrive. She is passionate about helping talented professionals find the right job and her work in the community is focused on furthering our area as a center of economic vitality. Miriam likes to garden and care for her pets. She is a member of an adult-only skate group where she rollerblades every week. She loves the Mets! And she is obsessed with vacuum cleaners; she really likes to vacuum and has 6 right now.