The days of endless Zoom calls and Slack notifications are about to be over for many American workers. Nearly 74 percent of businesses report they’re bringing employees back to the office, according to a survey this month conducted by Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network. That’s a 25 percent increase from the survey’s findings in March.
Following the widespread availability of the Covid-19 vaccine and a return to social engagements, companies are next in line to return to normal. “People either socially or professionally are going out and living life normally with the vaccine,” LaSalle’s CEO Tom Gimbel told CNBC’s Squawk Box July 15.
Many large companies are already returning to office life or planning to do so soon. Goldman Sachs welcomed most of its workers back in June, and Citi is planning to re-open its offices in September. Facebook and Apple are looking at plans for at least a partial return in 2021. Google is planning a return to the office for most employees in the second-half of 2021, despite reports from employees that productivity increased during last year’s period of remote work.
While many workers prefer to work from home, Gimbel noted that employees with longer tenures are much more likely to want to return to the office. “We’re actually seeing that employees that spend more than four years at the same company are more inclined to want to come back,” he said. Newer employees, considered those who have worked at the company for less than three years, seem to prefer to work from home.
Considering bringing everyone back to your office soon? Gimbel advises making sure that employees know your motive for ending remote work. “Do you really care about the employees, or are you trying to bring back them back for an ulterior motive?,” Gimbel told Inc. in an interview. And if you are bringing them back for good reasons, give them plenty of notice.
Also, don’t throw employees into the deep end of in-office work. Ease the transition by asking them to come in two or three days a week at first.
Finally, make the office a place where people want to return. If most workers shut themselves in their offices or cubicles and rarely socialize, a return to the office likely won’t add much value.
“You’ve got to figure out how to make an office environment more fun” again, said Gimbel.