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Explore some of the most important considerations related to returning to office, hybrid work, and flexibility

Explore some of the most important considerations related to returning to office, hybrid work, and flexibility

Flexible work arrangements aren’t a novel trend, but the conversation has shifted and your organization is likely wondering how to get workers back in the office on a regular basis. Whether your organization is just starting to explore a return to office (RTO) strategy, you’re looking to gauge the effectiveness of policies you’ve already implemented, or you’re somewhere in between, you’ve come to the right place.

As you begin to implement a push for employees to return to the office, be mindful that many of them have grown accustomed to the flexibility that remote work provides. Let us help you get your RTO strategy right while still being able to recruit and retain the top talent that your organization needs.

Unlock the true potential of hybrid work

Offering to meet in the middle may be the best way to bring the remote worker back to an in-office setting. A hybrid work schedule could be the perfect solution.

Hybrid work schedules can offer employees the flexibility of working from home a couple days a week, while still experiencing in-office collaboration benefits on the other days.

The benefits of setting a hybrid working model lets your organization continue to put a focus on your employees’ work-life balance while also prioritizing both in-person collaboration with teammates and cross-functionally.


Ask what flexibility means to them

An RTO mandate that doesn’t consider what your employees want will leave you vulnerable to losing valuable talent. One survey found that 56% of respondents would consider employment elsewhere if flexibility was no longer an option. With that staggering number, it’s important to put your employees first and listen to their questions and concerns.

Let employees know why you think RTO is important

Giving a detailed answer as to why you would like employees back in the office is key. Employees want to understand where the decision is coming from and what benefits the organization is expecting to see from it. A “because we said so” explanation is likely to ruffle some feathers.

Clearly communicate RTO plans or adjustments to hybrid work schedules in advance

Are all employees expected to come in on the same days? Will you be taking an approach that lets the employee determine what days they come in and what days they work remotely? Do individual teams need to agree on specific days? Make sure you are clearly communicating any expectations ahead of time so that your employees have adequate time to prepare.

Ensure the office space can support the influx of employees

Your organization’s office space most likely looks different than it did pre-pandemic. You may have downsized in your current location or moved to an entirely different location. Either way, as employees are asked to RTO, it’s possible that you’ll have to adapt again to support more in-office employees. As you determine these changes, listen to what employees are saying they need or want within their workspace. Working technology, conference rooms for meetings, and gathering space for socializing are a few examples, but paying attention to what your employees are asking for can help make the RTO a positive experience.

Offer various ways for your employees to provide feedback and concerns

We’d argue that giving the employees a means to provide feedback is the most important consideration. Create a space where employees can voice concerns, send in recommendations, and provide feedback on the RTO plans. Be prepared to implement reasonable requests that might make the transition back to the office easier.

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Whether flexible work is relatively new for your organization or you’ve offered it for years, you’ll still want to take a regular pulse of your employees’ top priorities to create an effective and sustainable flexible work program. In today’s digital world there are a lot of different ways to find out exactly what your employees are thinking and expecting.

Pulse surveys

Collect valuable employee feedback on employee engagement, emerging organizational problems, and other vital topics via pulse surveys on a quarterly, monthly, or even weekly basis. Learn more >

View product: Allegro

Digital focus groups

Are your workers feeling a little bit “surveyed out”? Digital focus groups are an alternative method where feedback is collected anonymously in real-time, so you can obtain typically hard-to-discover insights from up to 1,000 employees all at once. Learn more >

View product: Digital Focus Groups

Talent All Access® Portal

TAAP into this ready-made toolbox of templates, checklists, and products to help you plan, design, and evaluate the ROI of your flexible working policies. Learn more >

View product: Talent All Access® Portal

Flexible vs. hybrid work schedules

Hybrid work schedules offer a layer of flexibility that employees crave; however, it’s not the same as flexible work schedules.

Hybrid work schedules are about WHERE your employees work. Flexible work schedules pertain to WHEN they work.

If you are looking to implement schedules outside the traditional nine-to-five work week, check out this article or get the Mercer Flexible Working Policies & Practices Survey.

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