How You Can Bring Your Homeworking Employees Back to the Office

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It probably won’t have escaped your notice that Manchester United made headlines in May by pushing for employees back to the office with a “do” or “resign” ultimatum. This move is part of a trend where employers are re-evaluating flexible work policies, prompting discussions on the merits and drawbacks of remote work.

how to bring homeworkers back to the office

Some employers believe that office presence fosters a better work culture, team spirit, and productivity. However, a rigid approach may negatively impact recruitment, employee well-being, and retention. Where regular office attendance is desired, it is crucial for employers to discuss with their employees the availability of other flexible working arrangements like flexi-time or compressed hours.  This can help your employees balance their work and personal lives while meeting the company’s requirement for regular office attendance.

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Where to start the discussion

For companies who want to bring employees back to the office, they should consult with their staff to understand their needs and concerns. If employment contracts explicitly state that the office is the primary workplace and home working was a temporary measure, returning to the office is a reasonable management request. However, if home or hybrid working has become customary, it may have become an implied term of the employment contract. In such a case, employers should consult with employees to discuss any proposed changes.

Considerations for employers

It is important for employers to take full consideration of the legal implications. Mandating a return to the office could result in indirect discrimination against individuals with disabilities or caregiving responsibilities, who may struggle with rigid office requirements. Employers are legally obliged to accommodate reasonable adjustments for these employees, which may include remote work options. Moreover, the right to request flexible working is protected, and employers must handle such requests fairly and transparently.

While some businesses are keen to bring employees back to the office full-time, data suggests that a significant portion of the workforce prefers hybrid or flexible working arrangements. The pandemic has certainly shifted expectations, with many employees valuing the flexibility that allows them to manage personal responsibilities and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Employers who insist on rigid office attendance are likely to face challenges in attracting and retaining employees.

Get HR advice to bring home workers back to the office

There’s no getting away from it – the trend towards greater workplace flexibility is likely to continue. Employers should engage in meaningful consultations with their employees to find a balanced approach that accommodates both the organisation’s needs and employee preferences and make reasonable adjustments where required by law. This will help maintain a motivated and loyal workforce in an evolving work environment.

Are you looking for HR support regarding returning to the office or need help re-writing your contracts and policies to fit a hybrid approach? If so, get in touch for your free discovery call.