Reasons employees don’t want to return to the office–and what you can do about it.
There’s been a growing resistance over the last six months: employees don’t want to return to the office.
Here we look at the most common reasons employees don’t want to return to the office–and what you can do about it.
Top reasons employees don’t want to return to the office
A lack of enthusiasm and white-collar lethargy
The newest buzzword in the market is white-collar lethargy.
This term was coined to broadly describe the reluctance of employees to return to the office. This sentiment is mostly a by-product of the pandemic, where a WFH lifestyle and new priorities in life take centre stage.
Employees who are affected and feel unexcited about working in the office are choosing self-fulfilment over their work. Things like an office commute are seen as detractors to this balance.
It’s noted that this lethargy is most apparent in organisations where collaboration and camaraderie have gone missing and there is not a solid remote work culture.
They feel more productive at home
With fewer interruptions and no commute time, it’s not a surprise that some workers feel they get more done at home. And there’s research to support this.
A Stanford study surveying 16,000 workers found productivity increased by 13% when they were working at home. This was attributed to more minutes in a typical workday, fewer breaks, and fewer sick days.
They feel they are giving up their autonomy
Many workers found their groove working from home. While they may have had regular check-ins with their managers, they were mostly given the trust and autonomy to achieve their tasks as they see fit. They could set their workdays as they pleased.
For some workers, moving back to the office can feel like giving up this autonomy and having to return to how they worked before. At best, they may feel like management is veering towards micro-management. At worst, they may feel like they have lost their voice completely.
What can you do about it?
- Talk to your workers about what a return to work would like for them.
- Ask how they would like to be managed.
- Support your workers by offering greater flexibility.
- Consider offering off-peak start times to reduce their commute.
- Be compassionate.
- Offer training to support workload changes if this is a stressor.
- Create quiet workspaces in the office to reduce interruptions.
- Implement a flow light or traffic light system on desks to reduce interruptions.
- Invest in team activities.
- Offer more opportunities for collaboration.
- Ask about your employee’s goals and consider how you could better meet their expectations as an employer.
- Ask your employees for feedback on what would make a return to the office more attractive and suitable for them.