How to make it work for your team

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

Dubbed by some as the “great hybrid return to work,” employers in a variety of industries are being forced to consider what the work environment will be like for staff.

In an environment where labor is scarce, how much can companies push employees to return to the office? And how can bosses design a solution to meet the needs of the collective after more than two years of flexible working from home where individual choice has reigned supreme?

This reckoning is not limited to New Zealand, with stories from the UK, US and Australia painting a picture of a world that has fundamentally changed and the dawn of what could very well become the work-from-home decade.

Of course, not all employees can work from home. Some never have, as they continue to appear on the front lines of hospitals, supermarkets, and emergency response calls. But research suggests that those who have tried working from home are hungry for more.

Emphasize coordination

A 2022 report from Stanford University heralds the benefits of a hybrid approach to work and acknowledges that most, but not all, staff benefit from some time at home and some time in the office.

Stanford’s recommendation is to coordinate the return to the office with the agreed days (for example, from Tuesday to Thursday in the office, Monday and Friday at home) and re-evaluate at the end of the year to create a long-term plan.

This copy-and-paste plan certainly won’t work for every workplace, but it does suggest that a coordinated approach has some merit.