Organizations Concerned about Employee Pushback against Office Re-Entry Plans

Organizations Concerned about Employee Pushback against Office Re-Entry Plans

To reduce conflict risks, industry experts encourage organizations to “over-communicate regularly” about return-to-work policies and the reasons behind these strategies.

Employees who want to keep their remote working privileges are pushing back, as employers start to reveal their post-pandemic visions for work. These protests may be indicative of broader worker resistance to returning to pre-pandemic practices. Employees believe they’ve demonstrated their ability to be productive in a remote setting – and that the arguments for wanting them back in the office don’t add up.

Because the COVID-19 crisis is still ongoing and the situation is evolving, companies must plan for re-entry in a smart, employee-centric, and long-term manner. Organizations can learn what is attainable and preferable in their future normal by facilitating an empathic, transparent, and fluid re-entry. It will be difficult to establish future working patterns that satisfy all parties. However, doing so will pay off for businesses.

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Employee pushback is becoming more of a problem as organizations bring employees back in-house after a year of remote work, according to LaSalle Network’s 2021 Office Re-Entry Index report.

Acceleration of office re-entry plans

As per the latest index, 74 percent of respondents claimed they will be back in the workplace by fall this year. A poll taken at the company’s May Office Re-Entry Virtual Event indicated that one in five organizations had pushed forward their re-entry dates earlier than they originally intended.

Instead of bringing all staff back at the same time, some organizations are opting for a staggered reintegration schedule. When the first Office Re-Entry Index was released in March, 70 percent of respondents said they planned to phase employees back in, but that percentage has plummeted to 57 percent in the most recent index.

Hybrid work model

Many employees felt that work-from-home was here to stay after it was introduced, and some may have migrated as a result. This is partially due to how swiftly businesses throughout the world had to adapt – and some employers sent signs that the change could be permanent.

With the impending return to work, several businesses are discussing a “hybrid” future that includes both remote and office work. However, some employers want people back in the office full-time or for longer periods of time – and more frequently – than they had planned for or expected.

Pushback against Office Re-Entry Plans

Conflicts emerging as a result of new company policies are a source of concern for employers. Companies should “over-communicate regularly” about office re-entry plans and the logic behind these efforts to reduce the risks of these confrontations. Employees’ fears can be alleviated when organizations explain their reasons and thought process.

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It’s evident that not all employees are pleased to be called back to their workstations. Employees believe they’ve proven they can succeed in remote work after making the abrupt and, in many cases, stressful move to it at the onset of the pandemic.

Rather than making judgments from the top down, companies can benefit from more discussions and transparency as they figure out what post-pandemic work will entail. Employees have welcomed flexibility and autonomy in the last 15 months and will be hesitant to give it up.

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Prangya Pandab is an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. She is a seasoned journalist with almost seven years of experience in the business news sector. Before joining ODM, she was a journalist with CNBC-TV18 for four years. She also had a brief stint with an infrastructure finance company working for their communications and branding vertical.