How to make it work for your team

After more than two years of disruptions, lockdowns and uncertainty, employers will face a new reckoning in 2022: getting staff back into the office.

Dubbed the “great hybrid return to work” by some, employers across industries are being forced to think about what the work environment will look like for their workforce.

In an environment where labor is tight, how much can companies encourage employees to come back to the office? And how can bosses design a solution to meet the needs of the collective after more than two years of working from home, where individual choice prevailed?

This reckoning is not an isolated one in New Zealand, with stories from the UK, US and Australia painting a picture of a world fundamentally changed, and the start of what could well become the decade of working from home.

Admittedly, not all employees can work from home. Some have never done so, as they keep appearing on the front lines in hospitals, supermarkets and emergency calls. But research shows that those who have tasted working from home are hungry for more.

Emphasis on coordination

A 2022 report from Stanford University announces the benefits of a hybrid approach to work, recognizing that most – but not all – employees benefit from a little time at home and a little time at the office.

Stanford’s recommendation is to coordinate returns to the office with agreed-upon days (for example, Tuesday through Thursday at the office, Monday and Friday at home) and reassess at the end of the year to create a long-term plan.

This copy-and-paste plan certainly won’t work for all workplaces, but it does suggest that there is some merit to a coordinated approach.