At-Will Work from Office. Vogue or Pass.

Many among us have been working from home for over a year. We’ve experienced many things while working from home – like the joys of attending meetings while lazing in our beds, pretending to work while bingeing on our favorite shows, working while cooking. We’ve also had some lows too – like losing a loved one to the coronavirus, experiencing burn-out and zoom fatigue.

While half of Americans are fully vaccinated, the eagerness to come back to work is sporadic at best. Some organizations operating in specific industries in parts of the world have completely opened up and/or partially. However, one industry that hasn’t swung its doors wide open is IT.

As organizations contemplate having their workforce work from office, they are faced with two fundamental questions:

  1. What is best for the business?
  2. What do our employees want?

Simply put, the answer to both these questions is: flexibility.

Both, organizations and employees, need to be flexible in their approach to return to offices.

For organizations, empowering the workforce takes precedence. Giving employees the freedom to choose when, how and where they work is something both employees and organizations seem to agree on.

Coming back to work can be an emotional decision.

After working from home for over 15 months, returning to office can be an emotional decision. First – there is the concern for safety, as getting fully vaccinated is not the silver bullet we all thought it would be.

Employees are feeling anything from anticipation, excitement, happiness, hesitation to even fear while thinking about coming back to work.

One trend that has come to the fore is most employees are not interested in working in-office for five days a week, like we did before the pandemic.

Simultaneously, there are signs that few employees are charged up to return to work!

With emotions at play, it is imperative for organizations to give employees a voice in how, when and why they would like to come back to work.

A few reasons why giving employees a choice helps:

Forcing people back will force them out

According to the survey, job satisfaction is back to pre-pandemic heights, with 71% of those surveyed saying they were highly satisfied in their current position. However, over a third 36% say that they are very likely to quit their current job if forced to come back to office for five days a week as they used to.

Organizations and employees both need to be flexible.

A hybrid workforce is a happy workforce

The same survey sheds light on the fact that 72% of employees are willing to come back to work for 2-3 days in a week. An at-will hybrid model is currently the best opportunity for both organizations and employees to be productive and flexible.

A flexible workforce is productive

The flexibility of choosing when to work from office makes employees far more productive. Employees can prioritize work on the days they are at office, which leads to a healthier work-life balance. For organizations, offering a hybrid or flexible work options communicates trust in their workforce. Trust is the key ingredient “the secret” in a secret sauce recipe.

Covid-19 has proved that the human race can adapt, and we’ve evolved as a race in the past 18 months. Now going back to pre-pandemic days seems primitive.