Strategic Shifts For An Effective Return To Office


According to Gartner, forcing people back to office without a clear objective and open communication can impair employee productivity, retention, and performance. Organisations should instead focus three essential strategies: linking purpose with location, inspiring with honesty, and cultivating real inclusiveness.

“When it lacks meaning and reason, return-to-office mandates can feel like an about-face in employee flexibility, autonomy, and wellbeing, which is starkly at odds with the more human-centric corporate purpose many organisations have shifted towards,” said Neal Woolrich, Director, Advisory in the Gartner HR practise.

According to Gartner’s Q3 Global Talent Monitor (GMT) data, location is a top consideration for job candidates in Australia. “We keep hearing that most employees feel more productive working from home, so it’s baffling the lack of rational reasoning given by so many organisations in mandating employees return to the office,” Woolrich explained.

Related link: Hybrid Work Arrangements In HK Are Becoming More Popular

According to a Gartner poll conducted in June 2023, 48% of employees feel that workplace regulations emphasise leadership preferences above employee demands. Furthermore, due to a perceived lack of benefits in commuting to the workplace, more than half of employees choose remote work. To prevent a trust gap, Woolrich emphasised incentive through open communication rather than mandates. Leaders should explain the reasoning behind their return-to-work policies.

Despite efforts by organisations to improve diversity, equality, and inclusion (DE&I), Gartner’s GTM study indicated a drop in Australian employee attitude towards workplace culture and inclusion. Mandating office attendance may appear to be an equaliser, but according to the report, remote employees are 10% more included.

“Breaking away from the prevailing mindset of office uniformity and conformity is key,” Woolrich went on to say. “Organisations must provide an employee-centered workspace in which employees feel as at ease and connected at work as they do at home.” This necessitates knowing and empathising with employees’ individual situations, as well as questioning what works, what doesn’t, and what might be done better.”

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