How do I get my team back into the office?

Incentives for small and medium businesses

After the unprecedented time that is Covid, your team has been working from home and realising that they’re happy with the newly balanced life ­– minimal travel time, more time to work out, taking on call with a business shirt paired with yoga shorts. And now they’re reluctant to come back to the office. As a business owner, you are likely ready to take the plunge on offering incentives for getting the team back into the office.

We’re seeing recruiters reaching out to talent on LinkedIn for shiny brand-new roles offering attractive salaries with added incentives. Advertising free breakfast, subsidised gym memberships and in-house wellness programs, the list goes on. That’s great if you have the budget for it, but what if you’re running a small and medium business working with limited budget? Here are some tips that won’t break the bank.

The new flexible is essential

Employees with family will appreciate that they can do school drop off and reach the office at a flexible time without penalty. Remember to also extend the courtesy to team members who don’t have similar family obligations. Have team meetings scheduled at a designated time where all team members are expected to be present. And to avoid being stuck in a traffic jam, let them know that they can leave work earlier. Get your team to understand that you trust them to deliver and whilst deadlines are expected to be met, you’re not going to obsess over how many hours they were present at the office. Your employees will appreciate the gesture and might even be happy to come in for a change of scene after months and even years of WFH. You may need HR management help however in what flexibility looks like for your business and how to implement it properly.

Hybrid+ is the new normal

Whilst your team may get that five-day working week at the office is not what’s expected, there may still be a pushback once you announce that going back to the office is the next step in recovery. Devise a workable schedule for your team members to come to the office. Suggest that they can use collective rooms for efficient brainstorming. While you’re at it, give your team a good reason to come to the office other than to foster office culture. Pre-Covid, home used to be the oasis from work. Now the office can be the oasis away from well-worn loved ones, until it’s time to go home. The office can be the picture-perfect solution to get focus time, away from the distractions of home chores. 

Allow open conversations

Your team should be able to have an honest dialogue with you about how they want to return to the office. Whilst there are no “one size fits all” Covid safe policy, making decisions post-Covid differs in a way that individualised approach is necessary. High risk team members may not be comfortable in coming to the office when there’s no sophisticated air filtering system or when social distancing is not strictly observed. As covid safe policy for your business is implemented, you might be surprised at the change of heart. At the end of the day, you’re also avoiding the logistical nightmare of people getting sick. Make sure your remote work policy is in place as well, for when your team needs to work from home.

Smells like a new place

When you’re operating on a small and medium business budget, even a pool table may seem like an unnecessary expense. The good news is that you don’t have to spend money on office renovation to uplift its atmosphere. You can easily zhoosh a typical office look to a cozy café feel. If there’s anything we have learned from the lockdown, it’s the power of shifting furniture to bring in new energy to the space. While you’re at it, try to source the most decent coffee you can afford – something that smells different than ‘home’. Get the work playlist ready and you’ve got yourself a new café, where co-workers can both be productive and mingle together.

Well-being is non-negotiable

There’s a reason why your team wears yoga pants at home other than comfort. Working out from home has been placed forefront and centre during lockdowns, especially when hitting the gym was not an option. People are taking care of their mental health by talking to their therapists, who almost always reminds them that fresh air and a great dose of exercise spell out wellness. You may not be able to afford private trainers to come to the office, but you can lead the team to take regular breaks and participate in stretching at or next to their desks, with the help of an app. If you need the help of a wellness expert, we have a specialist on board at LMHR who can dial in and help your team remotely.  

Empathy wins: pose questions, not make statements

A small gesture such as mini birthday celebrations —balloons and presents at the desk doesn’t ever get old — is still nice, but as a business leader, you need to level up. According to LinkedIn Global Talent Trends 2022, “Today, employee well-being starts with care, compassion, and trust. It requires empathetic leaders who embrace and model flexible work arrangements and don’t glorify working on weekends and 1 a.m.” If you don’t go this route, they may do more than not just go back to the office. They might go job shopping elsewhere.

LMHR works with small and medium business owners navigate through this landscape in real-life situations. As HR consultants, we understand the delicate dance of being a business owner, a leader and an empathetic boss and it can be rather challenging to reconcile all aspects. If you need expert guidance in covid policy management, remote working procedures and getting your team back to the office, we can help. HR can be painful. We do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on running the show. Get help now. Contact us today.