This is a question that many organisations and employees are still grappling with at the moment and it seems like a tug of war in expectations.
Research suggests most employees want to return to the office but at a frequency of around 1 day a week, most organisations however instinctively feel it should be more.
I'm fine working from home
Many employees argue 'well I have managed to complete my work tasks remotely for a year or more why should I return?'
Digging deeper, it seems the younger generation are more likely to want to return more frequently, siting unmet needs around developing their skills, building their networks and having a supportive working environment.
However, the older generations are less keen to return as often, having enjoyed a better work life balance and with the benefit of a suitable homework space.
How do we bridge this gap in expectations?
If nothing else, as an office full of just the younger generations doesn't fulfil the needs of the younger employees, nor the company.
Critical, will be open and honest discussion around everyone’s needs. I penned this sketch to help frame my point.
We need to broaden the discussion from just the individual’s needs (i.e., I can get my tasks done so I am ok).
Each of us works as part of a team (some large, some small) therefore the needs of that team, be it collaboration, onboarding new members or addressing underperformance all need to be taken into account as well.
Wider than that, the company needs should also be considered, developing talent, embedding the culture, support for the ESG agenda.
It’s all about your customers
Finally, remembering that all a company does, down to the level of tasks performed by each employee, is ultimately done in service of your customer and their needs, which may well have shifted post pandemic.
Broadening the conversation in this way helps develop a deeper understanding of the needs of each employee, their teammates, the company overall, and of course remembering that all you do is about your customer ultimately.
This does not instantly resolve the tug of war, but it serves as a good starting point for discussions about why people should come together to work, and what your future way of working might ultimately look like.