Not All Office Days Are Created Equal – Unworking to find the balance in the RTO era

Businesses have been returning to the office in their numbers this year, bringing the global work from home revolution to an abrupt end.

The recent news that Zoom – the  software developer that made remote working possible – has asked employees to return to the office proves just how seriously employers are taking the push to re-establish normal in office working conditions.

  • For management, having employees back in the office comes with a raft of benefits, including more opportunities for collaboration, and the ability to monitor teams more closely.
  • For employees who have gotten used to increased flexibility, the same set of perks may not seem that clear-cut and other benefits can be introduced to draw them back to the office.

In this article, we take a unique angle on some of the challenges of returning to the office where not all workdays are created equal.

Here’s how you can entice your workers to come back to the office by prioritising important tasks on the days they like to be there and build a collaborative culture from scratch.

Managing the WFH to RTO transition

The relatively new habit of working from home is proving difficult for workers to shake as they return to the office.

The dichotomy between enthusiastic managers keen to return to the office and workers yearning for the comforts of a work from home environment needs to be bridged with sincere dialogue and mutual understanding before a return to office policy can begin to be successful.

In our previous article on enticing employees back to the office, we highlighted the need for management to meet workers half way and give them strong reasons to come into work without being forced to do so.

An inclusive HR policy that combines the manager’s vision with the team’s needs can go a long way in securing workers’ cooperation. But it can’t simply be business as usual: what’s needed is a redefinition of how teams work and when they’re expected to be on the premises.

Deciding how to work – not only when

Whether your business is sticking to a hybrid policy or taking the strongest step of eliminating the work from home option entirely, you’re likely to meet with a certain amount of disappointment and resistance from your team members.

That is, unless they sense that coming back to the office will give them special benefits – especially if they can still enjoy working from home at least part of the time.

It’s essential for management to consider the need for flexibility which saw millions of workers embrace the work from home revolution.

  • Freedom and responsibility come together in a hybrid working model with high worker autonomy, and smart management will combine these two elements when dealing with the unique needs of employees who have become used to being away from the office.
  • While highly autonomous workers may resist being back behind their desks permanently, there are many workers who found it difficult to work remotely, citing reasons, like a lack of guidance and training.

Many employees are likely to embrace a return to the office as long as it provides the structure that they need, includes a strong social element and offers quality time with managers and mentors.

At the same time, a key consideration in this regard is that workers may not necessarily want to come to work on the days they used to before the pandemic. This is a golden opportunity for management to reset the company’s work culture for future productivity gains.

Not all days are made equal

It’s not difficult to imagine that for the average employee, Monday is often the worst day to be in the office.

At the same time, working from home on a Friday gives employees a sense of an extra-long weekend, even if they just have the usual two days off.

  • If given the option to choose three out of five in-office days per week, the average worker will probably select Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Managers can harness the psychological importance of a long restful weekend to schedule important meetings and team-based activities around the middle of the week while leaving Monday and Friday open for quiet work in the office.

Other time scheduling strategies to consider may be “half day Friday” to kick off the weekend early or a 10 AM start to help everyone beat the morning traffic.

A total reset in the approach to working begins with figuring out how our employees can make the best contribution in the most effective way; a rethink of how the workplace will involve.

Unworking is about unravelling how we think about work and returning to some fundamental principles. The role of a manager is to create the environment that encourages people to do their job effectively and efficiently and then get out of the way!

Empower workers to spend time in the office

There’s no doubt that some employees will return to the office enthusiastically if management nudges them in the right direction and offers them benefits that can’t be had while working remotely.

Beat the morning commute

  • While the morning rush hour may be unavoidable for workers who have to be on site early in the morning, flexible starting times can certainly help to alleviate the stress that comes with a hectic morning commute.
  • In keeping with this strategy, many businesses have embraced a flexitime policy that allows workers to be in the office from 10 am to 3 pm every day with the option to work remotely in the morning and afternoon, depending on the workers’ schedule and workload.

Offer a social and professional atmosphere for productivity

Working remotely has its share of disadvantages- especially where productivity is concerned. A recent survey reveals that workers experience an 18% percent drop in efficiency when asked to work remotely, hence the theory of unworking.

An office environment that blends social and professional activities will attract and retain talent and go a long way in defeating the resistance that some managers have experienced when creating an RTO policy.

  • Employees who return to the office successfully often do so because they have missed the social aspect of spending time with their colleagues.
  • Management can encourage healthy relationships between employees and facilitate training and teambuilding activities by ensuring that there are ample opportunities to socialise.
  • Building facilities that include a variety of attractive dining options where office users can grab coffee, lunch or dinner and brainstorm together or simply kick back after a challenging day at the office will set desirable properties apart in the RTO era.
  • These initiatives should be complimented by a commitment to training and skills development that entice workers to show up and do their best – along with a progressive HR policy that makes rewards and promotions into the natural result of hard work, dedication, and skills attainment.

Modern, on trend Cape Town office space: a great reason to come to work

If you’re bringing your Cape Town team together full time again, why not do it in one of the sought after buildings in our Commercial Space portfolio?

We’re proud to match tenants with commercial units in the Mother City’s most desirable, up to date, and sustainable buildings. Contact us today to get started.