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Why go back to the office? – Sometimes even leaders don't know the answer

Why go back to the office?  – Sometimes even leaders don't know the answer

If you had to name a topic that was discussed a lot in the HR world last year, most people would probably mention moving back from the home office to the office. The debate over this seems to have been settled in the past year, as more and more companies around the world have introduced RTO regulations for employees post-Covid.

The majority of companies have not fully reassigned employees to offices, but continue to offer remote work under the hybrid model.

Currently, about half of U.S. companies require all or part of their employees to work in the office a few days a week. This percentage will rise to 90% by the end of 2024 – according to a survey of 1,000 American business managers published a few weeks ago by the American job search portal From his poll. 8% of companies will require mandatory presence in their offices by the end of 2025 or even later, and only 2% of companies reported that they do not need to visit their offices.

Challenges of the hybrid model

However, companies still have to clarify many things regarding the creation of the new hybrid lineup. According to experts, the big question this year will be how effectively companies will operate the new model, and how they will ensure that employees work as efficiently as possible in the office on joint projects that require cooperation between colleagues, and within the framework of the home office, and can do this alone on tasks. Their work.

Our articles on the latest HR trends are available here. Separation, working at home, fighting with colleagues, burnout, unbearable colleagues, or the demands of Generation Z? We constantly follow changes in the world of work.

The advantage of the hybrid model is that employees become more committed to their work through the remote work option, their overall well-being improves and the risk of employee turnover is lower than in the case of employees who work entirely in the office but are also suitable for remote work. However, the hybrid model also poses challenges for companies, as they have to coordinate the work of their employees who work remotely in different time periods as efficiently as possible. For this reason, if a company plans to shift to a hybrid model in the long term, it must develop a strategy on how to deal with communication within the company and collaboration between different business teams, while also strengthening their corporate culture.

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For example, US company YouParcel, which provides order fulfillment services to web stores, introduced a partial RTO service, because office work was required for jobs where it would be beneficial for employees to be able to work collaboratively in the office.

The results were mixed, with some welcoming the change citing improved communication, while others expressed concerns about commuting and work-life balance.

stated Onur Kutlubay, founder of YouParcel. In the company, about 40% of employees have to visit the office, especially those who deal with product development and customer relations issues. YouParcel also expects its employees to be in the office three days a week.

This solution created balance, enabled remote work for tasks that could be performed independently, and enhanced collaboration between colleagues during workdays

Onur Kutlubay explained.

Many questions still need clarification

“There is still a lot of uncertainty [a hibrid munka körül – a szerk]. “I don't think any company has ever said they know exactly how to run this model.” Believes Aaron De Smet, senior partner at McKinsey ConsultingHe is, among other things, an expert on the issue of changing workplace culture. According to him, this was expected, because when the coronavirus pandemic turned the world of work upside down, it shook the foundations of work and organizational models that had been in place for more than a century.

Over the past year, it has become increasingly clear to a growing number of company managers that bringing employees back to the office does not solve all the problems related to expected employee performance.

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But according to Smit, the real question is how to integrate employees into work processes in the hybrid model in a way that enables different business teams to work as productively as possible.

“This will require much more than simply ordering colleagues to return to their offices,” De Smet stressed.

Recently, company managers have been frustrated with employee performance, colleague commitment, and talent retention.

Believes Callie Yost, CEO and founder of HR consulting firm Flex+ Strategy Group. “These are real problems that they thought would be solved when workers returned to the office. But being in the office doesn't automatically lead to the results they think they need to achieve,” Yost added.

If company managers really want to resolve these questions, they should carefully consider which work activities are more effective if employees work on joint projects in the office in person, and which activities can be solved more effectively through remote work.

One of the key questions in this area is how companies can achieve this by not just hiring office workers to do the same work they can do remotely. According to experts, the fact that an office visit has a real purpose should already be a foundation for companies in 2024.

Defining this goal precisely and then confirming it by clearly communicating to employees why it is important for the company to be in the office is a more effective solution than simply telling employees how many days a week they should be in the office from now on. – Highlight Nilesh Thakur, global head of talent at management consulting firm Zinnov.

Given that hybrid work has become the norm for employees who are able to work remotely, it is time for company managers to optimize the capabilities of the hybrid model, experts stress. This requires, for example, reviewing performance management systems, developing efficient cooperation between different work teams, and the need for middle managers to be a kind of coach in dealing with various hybrid operating issues.

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There is something more important than the possibility of working remotely

Gallup published a global report last summer reconnaissance However, he also pointed out that in the question of how people relate to their work, how committed they are to their work has much more to do with the quality of their relationship with their colleagues and managers than with whether they work remotely or elsewhere. the desk. According to Gallup research, employees' commitment to their work and their well-being are influenced by the way employees are managed four times more than where they work.

Gallup published in December 2023 meaning According to several US companies, in recent times they have “radically changed” their business processes, with the result that employees, including middle managers, have become more stressed and less connected to each other. When asked about the changes companies have made in 2023, companies

  • 64% said that employees were assigned additional job duties,
  • 51% mentioned reorganizing work teams,
  • 42% reported budget cuts.

Internal reorganizations and cuts in company budgets affected middle managers particularly sensitively, as this resulted in a greater burden on them. In the new situation, they were more likely to be burned out than non-managerial employees. They were also more likely to feel that their company did not care about their well-being, and more likely to say that they had difficulty maintaining a work-life balance. This is an unfavorable phenomenon for the entire company, as the mood of middle managers can spread to the workers they supervise. This phenomenon is particularly worrying for company managers, because employees' confidence in their company's management has declined significantly since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, although the situation began to improve last year: however, only 23% of American employees remain… Claims It is clear that he trusts the management of his company.

Cover image source: Getty Images

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