From Remote to Real: Strategies for a Smooth Return-to-Work

The debate over whether or not to return to the office all days of the week or to continue with hybrid work is far from settled, even as companies clamour to get employees back to the workplace. This is happening not only in India but globally and across industries and corporations. There is a renewed push to end remote work as more and more CEOs argue that productivity, collaboration and employee engagement all suffer with remote working. 

Companies believe that in-person interactions foster innovation, mentorship, and skill development.

Here are some tried and tested methods that companies can incorporate within their return-to-work strategy. 

Hybrid model: Many organisations have embraced hybrid working models as a middle-ground solution. These models offer employees the flexibility to divide their workweek between remote and office work, striking a balance between the advantages of both settings. Take, for example, one of the world’s leading IT service providers that has encouraged its employees to return to the office three days a week. This approach allows employees the flexibility they have come to appreciate during the pandemic and emphasises the importance of maintaining a physical presence in the office.

Incentivising employees: Some organisations provide incentives such as catered lunches, team-building events, redecorating the office space and commuting benefits to wean them back to the workplace. This approach fosters stronger team dynamics and allows employees to connect with their colleagues whom they may be meeting for the first time, which can be especially valuable in a post-pandemic work setting. 

Compensation benefits: A survey by Gartner claims that a complete return to work makes employees undergo a 2-3% pay cut because of the increased costs associated with commuting and the need for professional attire, which impact their overall take-home pay. As a remedy, companies can offer financial bonuses, promotions, and other perks to offset this pay cut. 

Flexible hours: Providing flexibility in the hours employees work and giving them the freedom to select their preferred office attendance times is now defining the new post-pandemic workplace. A global tech giant, for instance, is actively promoting flexible work hours, allowing employees to choose the work hours that suit them best and allowing these to be discussed with the hiring manager during the recruiting process. 

No punch-in, punch-out time: Several other Indian MNCs have done away with the punch-in and punch-out system to bring employees back to the office. This policy signifies a departure from monitoring the exact time an employee enters the office, allowing them more flexibility and taking into account any personal constraints. 

As we see more and more firms trying to find a balance between remote work and work from the office, each firm needs to decide what suits them best depending on their vision, culture, goals, nature of work, employee feedback and customer satisfaction. Returning to the office is not merely a physical transition but a mindset shift. Therefore, it is imperative to build employee-centric and customised work plans depending on each organisation’s needs and wants, maintaining a healthy balance between the two.