Why employees resist returning to the office

As a leader, have you tried to get workers back in the office? Did they resist? Yes, it can be a huge boost to your productivity, but if you do it the wrong way, you’ll achieve the opposite. The biggest reason for resistance in returning to the office is that workers don’t understand the point or it’s poorly communicated. Here’s a simple guide on how to get employees to come back to the office.

Employees will resist work-from-office (WFO) if you communicate poorly

For many companies, gone are the days your teams need to work on the assembly line together. This is an obvious justification for a 9-5 work together scenario. Today, especially post-COVID, your staff knows remote is possible. So, if you push for WFO, know this: without a clear purpose of your return to work or work-from-office plan, staff will assume the most obvious reason: They aren’t trusted.

Staff who aren’t trusted act untrustworthy

If employees and staff believe they aren’t trusted as they return to your office, don’t be surprised when productivity slumps. Employees who don’t feel trusted will become quiet in meetings or start missing deadlines. People perform to the level of your expectations. Yes, even low expectations.

How to get employees to come back to the office

To get employees to come back to the office, spend time considering the objective and purpose for a return to office plan. Then, communicate your return to the office plan clearly, framed around the big objectives you have for your team. The challenge leaders face isn’t necessarily a hatred of the office but a hatred of bad planning and poor communication.

Explain clearly to your team how their presence can contribute to your goals. And how their presence will help other team members. Employees do understand work isn’t just about them, but it’s on you, the leader, to communicate how their team needs and values them. At the end of the day, working from the office is about their input and advice. You need to be clear about that.

Data on returning to the office. It matters.

There’s no excuse to demand a return to the office plan without a clear purpose or data. Resources on in-person collaboration are bountiful. Developing a plan on how to get employees to come back to the office should be supported by data. These days, research and data are easily accessible. McKinsey, Gallup, and HBR. To build your new work-from-office plan, start there.

A the end of the day, if you can’t communicate how returning to the office will help your team achieve its goals, or if you can’t find a reason, the hindrance to productivity is you.

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