Is In-Person Work Dead? How To Gain Employee Satisfaction When Returning To The Office



A Fresh Take On In-Person And Hybrid Work Models

If a lackluster office experience has you shaking your head, maybe I can change your mind. In a recent conversation with a friend, I learned about her recent career shift—from a fully remote role to a hybrid setup, requiring her to be in the office 2-3 days per week. Expecting to offer comfort during her adjustment, I was surprised by her nuanced perspective. Rather than just venting about the challenges, she shared an introspective dialogue about balancing autonomy with the benefits of face-to-face collaboration.

Her insights highlighted the value of solitude in commuting moments and the newfound camaraderie in the office, illustrating the multifaceted nature of adapting to hybrid work arrangements and the potential for personal and professional growth within change. For example, she often chose to go in on Mondays because that’s when most of her recurring team meetings were scheduled and those meetings felt more productive if she attended in person. If she felt nervous about a project or needed to ask clarifying questions, she prompted herself to go into the office on those days to face those obstacles head-on without distraction or procrastination.

Conversely, if she’d had a particularly busy weekend or felt overwhelmed in her personal life, she felt she had permission to stay home, decompress, and focus without apologizing or feeling like her boss would question her commitment.

Balancing In-Person And Remote Work: Boosting Employee Satisfaction By Giving Up Control

With reports saying things like 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work, it seems like the future of the in-person workforce is bleak. But the conversation with my friend made me wonder: do employees really want to work from home, or do they want the control that remote work offers? And if it’s the control that leads to employee satisfaction, could we do a better job building that into our in-office strategy? Here are tips for gaining employee satisfaction by giving up control:

1. Include Employees In The Decision-Making Process

Considering a new LMS? Ask for the input of employees who will be using it. Starting a new initiative? Create a cross-functional team that allows employees to collaborate and contribute their expertise from different company areas. Mandates don’t typically inspire a positive response. If you feel like a change is necessary, or your employees are not performing up to par, involve them in how you can all work toward a better outcome. Being “heard” is a huge first step toward increased employee satisfaction.

2. Reimagine The Work Environment

The pandemic gave many employees time to explore their preferences and optimize their work environments. From standing desks to ergonomic chairs to under-desk treadmills (and don’t forget a happy desk plant!), employees find what makes them feel comfortable and encourages them to be productive. I wouldn’t be excited about giving all that up, either. Consider how your office space can be more conducive to comfort and productivity by following tip #1: ask for input!

3. Adopt Work-From-Home Trends In The Office

Will it negatively impact your company’s bottom line if some employees start at 8:00 a.m. and others start at 9:00 a.m.? If the answer is no, consider giving employees control of their start/end times. This small concession of flexibility could make a big impact on your employees and greatly increase their work-life balance.

4. Make Relationship-Building A Priority

Is there any upside to commuting to work just to sit in cubicle isolation all day? Creating a sense of belonging in the workplace is pivotal to fostering an environment where employees want to show up. Building relationships involves more than scheduling a team lunch or dumping a group project on your team. Do some digging to uncover common interests or pain points among your employees and provide bonding experiences prefaced with a purpose and accompanied by clearly communicated benefits. Better yet, put your employees in the driver’s seat by giving them the freedom to plan and orchestrate relationship-building initiatives they’re excited about.

Conclusion

Successfully giving up control boils down to trusting your employees, which entails not only delegating tasks but also empowering them to make decisions autonomously, fostering a culture of accountability and collaboration; if you find yourself unable to do so, it might indicate deeper underlying issues that require careful examination and resolution, potentially related to communication, organizational structure, or leadership dynamics.



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