Remote work became necessary for many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it looks like remote and hybrid work environments will be here to stay, which means both workers and businesses need to make adjustments.
Many employees, perhaps especially younger ones, have quickly grown accustomed to working remotely. Eliminating commute time and gaining added independence is highly attractive to some workers who are likely to resist the idea of returning to the office full-time.
On the other hand, you may have some employees who cannot wait to return to the office. Many people miss getting out of the house and talking in person to colleagues and customers. They also may struggle with the independence that others crave; for some, working at home has led to nonstop work, with no clear boundary between work and life.
Given that many businesses will have workers in both camps—those who want to return to the office and those who do not—it’s a good idea, where possible, to offer flexible work arrangements. That might mean allowing some employees permanent work-from-home opportunities, or at least the option to telework a day or two a week.
For workers who will remain at home, businesses need to consider how best to support them and ensure that they continue to be fully engaged with the business. It’s essential to provide the technological tools necessary for secure, reliable remote work. It can also help to check in on a regular basis and encourage weekly or monthly in-person visits to the office. Ongoing conversations can help assess the needs of long-term at-home workers to ensure continued success for them and the business.
Adjustments may also be necessary for employees who will return to work in the office. For example, if the pandemic remains a threat, mask policies and other safety precautions need to be clearly communicated. Policies should also ensure that remote and on-site employees receive fair compensation, bonuses, and benefits to avoid any frustration over perceived favoritism of one group over the other.
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