Return-to-Office Mandates: How They Soar & Stumble

Group of diverse coworkers walking through a corridor in an office, holding paper cups
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It’s been nearly four years since the pandemic first hit the world, and as a result, the “workplace” changed forever. 

While many organizations have returned to the office in some capacity (for example it was recently reported by WFHResearch that only 12.7% of full-time employees work from home full time, and according to Owl labs, only 16% of companies across the globe are fully remote) many are fumbling through the specifics of what their policy should be and and exactly how to enforce it once they decide – leaving RTO mandates a stressful and contentious operation.


How RTO mandates stumble…

  • Employee Discontent & Exodus: It is abundantly clear that rigid mandates clash with employee needs, leading to stress, disengagement, and ultimately resignations. The lack of trust and flexibility erodes company culture and fuels resentment.
  • Operational Inefficiencies: Studies show remote workers can be equally (and sometimes more) productive, making mandatory office time potentially counterproductive. Additionally, unused office space translates to wasted cost, while employees face extra expenses like commuting.
  • Logistical Hurdles: Offices may not be equipped for full capacity, leading to overcrowding and tech limitations hindering collaboration. Furthermore, health concerns during pandemics can amplify anxiety and resistance.


…and how they soar!

  • Renewed Collaboration & Innovation: Strategic in-person gatherings for brainstorming, team building, and social interaction can foster deeper connections and spark innovation – leaving focused work to happen remotely. 
  • Enhanced Employee Experience & Wellbeing: Flexibility empowers employees to balance work-life demands, leading to increased satisfaction, reduced stress, and improved mental health. This fosters loyalty and attracts top talent.
  • Improved Productivity & Performance: By focusing on outcomes over presenteeism, companies can leverage the diverse strengths of both remote and in-office teams, potentially boosting productivity and achieving results.

Ultimately – like most things in life – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to RTO, but successful companies are crafting hybrid models that marry the best of both worlds. This involves:

  • Offering Flexibility: Cater to individual needs with designated in-office days and remote work options, fostering autonomy and work-life balance.
  • Building Trust & Transparency: Clearly communicate the rationale behind any in-office requirements and empower employees through flexible schedules and open communication.
  • Investing in Technology & Collaboration Tools: Ensure seamless integration of remote team members in meetings and projects, fostering a truly inclusive work environment.
  • Focusing on Outcomes & Wellbeing: Evaluate performance based on achievements rather than physical presence, and prioritize employee well-being through initiatives like mental health support.

The Takeaway

Return-to-office mandates aren’t doomed – organizations just need to reprioritize employee needs and real estate experience. By creating an in-person work environment that supports wellbeing, collaboration, and leverages the best of both remote and in-person worlds, companies can truly soar in the new era of work.

Need some help? HqO’s REX Platform assesses the health and performance of an end-user’s experience within a physical space, while providing the necessary tools for leaders to manage and optimize it, all from one central location.

Speak to a REX expert to learn more.

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