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How well are firms handling the shift back to the office?

Dive into the latest HR Salary and Benefits Guide for 2024, offering insights from thousands of HR professionals.

The annual HR Salary and Benefits Guide* is a survey of thousands of HR professionals across the sector, providing valuable insights for the upcoming year.

One key insight from the survey reveals a challenge for employers: enticing staff back into the office. Jacqui Wall, Head of HR & Finance Recruitment at Ashley Kate, offers her advice on how businesses can address the challenges of hybrid working models.

The pandemic led to a shift in remote working, but now many UK employers are urging employees to return to the office. This shift raised legal and policy questions, such as whether remote work agreements were contractually agreed upon, and how changes align with other workplace policies and sustainability targets. The upcoming UK flexible working request regime changes may lead to more requests from employees, potentially resulting in grievances and legal claims. Employers should consider each request individually, engage in early dialogue and maintain consistency in handling similar requests to avoid claims of discrimination or unfairness.

Trends and Company Strategies for Returning to the Office

  • Hybrid Work Models

Many UK companies are adopting hybrid work models, combining in office and remote work. This approach offers flexibility while maintaining some levels of office presence.

  • Office Space Reconfiguration

Companies are reconfiguring office spaces to support collaborative work and ensure safety.

  • Technology Integration

Enhanced use of technology for a seamless transition between home and office work is becoming the norm.

Employee Perspectives on Returning to Office Work

  • Desire for Flexibility

Many employees prefer the flexibility that remote work offers. The shift back to the office is being met with mixed reactions, with some employees welcoming it and others preferring the remote work model. HR teams are having to manage this balance very closely.

  • Work Life Balance Concerns

Balancing work and personal life remains a key concern for employees transitioning back to the office.

Balancing Remote and In-Office Work Challenges and Solutions

  • Maintaining Productivity and Engagement

Ensuring consistent productivity and engagement levels across different work environments is a challenge. Solutions include regular check ins and the use of collaborative tools.

  • Communication and Collaboration

Maintaining effective communication and collaboration between remote and in-office employees is crucial. Utilising digital platforms for team meetings and project management can bridge the gap.

  • Health and Safety

Ensuring the health and safety of employees in the office is paramount. Implementing safety protocols and flexible sick leave policies can address these concerns.

The shift back to the office in the UK is complex process, requiring thoughtful strategies to balance the employee preferences with organisational needs. As companies navigate this transition, the focus remains on creating a work environment that is productive, flexible, and supportive of employee well being.

Published by Ashley Kate

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