Why Your Workforce May Be Hesitant to Return to the Office

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As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an enormous number of businesses began allowing employees to work remotely – if not outright requiring them to. Not only was this an effective way to keep workers safe and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, it also helped many of us discover the benefits of working remotely. Since we’ve spent our professional lives reporting to formal workplaces every day, it never simply never occurred to us that so many jobs could be done effectively and efficiently from the comfort one one’s own home. So, if you’ve been experiencing pushback in response to eliminating remote work, it’s worth considering why your employees might take issue with this.

Fear of Decreased Productivity  

Decreased productivity is among the most common reasons businesses give for not allowing remote work. By this reasoning, employees can’t be trusted to efficiently manage their time in the absence of constant supervision. However, as many businesses came to find during the pandemic, the opposite is actually true. In many cases, freedom from the constraints of micromanagement enabled workers to maintain a steady pace throughout the day and complete work well ahead of deadlines. As such, it’s reasonable to infer that a full-time return to the office would only serve to hinder their newfound productivity

A decrease in productivity is a bad thing for both your business and its individual employees. After spending the last two years completing projects at an even clip, a forced return to the drudgery and incessant distractions synonymous with the office experience is liable to prove disheartening and result in decreased productivity. While some employees may benefit from the purported structure of the traditional work experience, most of us are more than capable of managing our schedules and staying on top of our respective workloads.     

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Interference in Their Personal Lives 

Far too many businesses fail to view employees as actual people. As far as these businesses are concerned, these individuals hold absolutely no value outside of what their contributions to the success of their respective employers. However, as resistant as many employers are to this notion, their workers are indeed people – people who are often adversely impacted by unreasonable work schedules. 

The pandemic-facilitated embrace of remote work has shown us that the nine-to-five workday is often unnecessary and that requiring workers to remain in the office for a set number of hours isn’t necessarily conducive to productivity. What’s more, traditional work schedules are frequently incompatible with the personal lives of workers. For example, parents, caregivers and other people with a plethora of non-work-related obligations are left with virtually no time to decompress at the end of a traditional workday. Unsurprisingly, working remotely provides these individuals with a heightened degree of flexibility, thus allowing them to attend to other obligations without feeling overstretched. 

Concerns Over COVID-19 

Although a concerning number of businesses are acting like COVID-19 is in the rearview, this is far from the case. While the availability of vaccines is undeniably a good thing, far too many Americans are unvaccinated – or insufficiently vaccinated. Furthermore, even people who are fully vaccinated and boosted are treating vaccination as an impenetrable shield against COVID and failing to take the proper precautions. 

That being the case, it’s easy to see why people would be hesitant to return to a workplace that stands to become an infection hotspot. If your business doesn’t have a vaccination mandate or isn’t requiring employees to mask up, any concerns employees may have about COVID are fully justified. After all, it hardly seems right that someone should become infected with COVID-19 and potentially spread that infection to their loved ones simply because you want your workforce back in the office. In the interest of gauging employee concerns over the pandemic – and any other important matters – consider conducting a pulse survey.    

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It isn’t difficult to see why so many of us came to embrace remote work over the past couple years. In addition to being less stressful and more flexible than the traditional work experience, working remotely has helped slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and its many variants. So, if your efforts at bringing the team back to the office have been met with pushback, consider the reasons discussed above.  

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