"Companies are reopening their offices and asking remote workers to come back. Now your company has a policy, and it's your job to implement that policy. But some of your employees are going to resist. There are two big reasons why. One, they're anxious, and two, they're comfortable.
They'll be anxious because they have new things to worry about. Things like childcare, the commute and meeting new people.
They're comfortable because they come to like working remote. It's flexible, casual. It's easy.
You can't treat these people the same way because you can't motivate them the same way.
- If people resist out of anxiety, you have to build their confidence.
- If people resist out of comfort, you have to give them a good reason to act.
You have to manage the back to work transition on an individual basis because everyone's situation is different. This isn't a one size fits all effort.
For the anxious employees, you want to make it easy for them to share their concerns with you. They had to make accommodations to work remotely, and now they have to make accommodations to come back. The more patient and flexible you can be, the better.
Whatever policy your company has, give the people as much leeway as you can. The more control you give the employee or the greater sense of control they have, the more confident they'll feel.
For your comfortable employees, you're asking them to give up things that they like. They're not worried about the commute or childcare, you're just cramping their new style of work. You don't need to be as patient, but you still have to be flexible with these folks.
Perks like food and a relaxed office environment are nice. But listen, they had all that at home. What they didn't have at home was social interaction. They didn't have impromptu interactions with you. They didn't get timely, in-person feedback. They didn't get to connect with new colleagues.
Be more visible. Rally the team. Have quick brainstorming sessions, give short updates. Celebrate the little daily winds. Have some fun! These are all good reasons to interact, and each interaction is going to feed the team's psychological needs.
For people anxious about coming back, help build their confidence. If they're comfortable at home, give them what they couldn't get remotely.
Whatever policy or company adopts, people will need some time to adapt. Give them time and help them transition, and each step they take, give encouragement and celebrate their return. They'll feel better, and so will you."
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