The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a seismic shift in the way we work, with many employees now working from home on a permanent basis. Even as more are able to return to the office, many are choosing to continue with the WFH arrangements they’ve made during the pandemic.
Challenges and benefits of working remotely
For some, the ability to work from home has saved them a significant amount of time and money on commuting costs. It has also given them more flexibility in terms of their work schedule, which can be a huge perk for parents or caregivers in Singapore. Additionally, some employees may simply find they are more productive when working from home.
However, while this arrangement has its advantages, it can also pose challenges for managers. This includes issues in:
- Communication: Staying in touch with remote employees can be difficult, even with platforms like Slack, Skype and Zoom. Managers may also struggle to provide adequate supervision and support to staff who are not physically present.
- Productivity: With people in different locations, it can be tough to keep track of what needs to be done and who is responsible for what. This can lead to confusion and frustration, especially if deadlines are not being met.
- Company culture: Some employees may miss the social interaction that comes with being in the office. Managers may also miss opportunities for informal mentoring and networking that happen when staff members are in close proximity to one another.
- Retention: If employees are satisfied with working from home, there is a risk that they may leave the company if they are offered a job with another company that allows them to work remotely. This can be a significant loss for the company, both in terms of the investment made in the employee and in terms of knowledge and expertise.
Moreover, working from home can make it difficult to establish and maintain professional boundaries. For example, employees may find themselves working longer hours and this can lead to burnout. As a manager, it is crucial to find new ways to stay connected with your employees and ensure that everyone feels engaged with their work. It’s a tricky balance to strike but with the below tips, you can motivate your employees to return to the office.
Return-to-office engagement ideas
1. Organise team lunches
For some, the prospect of going back to the office after months of working from home may feel like a step backwards. They may worry about readjusting to a more traditional work environment and managing their work-life balance. Others may find it difficult to reconnect with colleagues after being out of touch for so long.
As a start, team lunches can be a great step to gather everyone in the office. A weekly or monthly lunch gathering gives employees a chance to socialise, bond over common interests and catch up on work in a relaxed setting. This can provide a much-needed break from the isolation of working from home. It can also be a great opportunity for you to check in with your staff and get feedback on projects. When setting up team lunches, be sure to schedule them in advance so that everyone has time to clear their calendars.
2. Set expectations
Face-to-face interactions are still the best way to build relationships and encourage collaboration. Besides regular team lunches, you can also make it mandatory for employees to come into office at least once a week. This will give them a chance to collaborate or simply get to know their colleagues in person. Additionally, it will help to ensure that they remain engaged with the company and invested in its success.
3. Allow flexible working hours
With that in mind, another way to encourage remote workers to come into the office on occasion is to allow flexible working hours. With flexible working hours, employees can choose when they want to come in to work. This can help to make the office a more attractive place to work as it gives employees more control over their schedules and work-life balance.
4. Offer perks and benefits
Finally, employees should feel like they have a good work-life balance and that their health and wellbeing are being taken into consideration. On top of flexible working hours, you can also consider including more desirable perks like expanded choices for health insurance and staff gym membership as part of your wellness program initiatives. The goal is to make the office a more attractive place to work and give employees the motivation they need to return. By offering these employee benefits, you can effectively reduce absenteeism and improve productivity. In turn, you can gain a significant advantage in attracting and retaining top talent in Singapore.
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