How Hong Kong employers can entice staff back to the office once Covid-19 measures are relaxed
- Making the return mandatory could be self-defeating; some firms have had to be creative to get the team to return to office
- If you’re wondering when the best time is to think about your company’s hybrid work policies and plan for your future workforce – the time is now
As a result, many offices in both the private and public sectors have been closed since Lunar New Year. Now social distancing measures are being eased, how can organisations encourage their employees to return to work?
In fact, a survey conducted by CIEL HR Services2 found that 60 per cent of respondents would prefer to resign rather than return to the office.
Clearly making the return mandatory, as we’ve seen some international companies do, could be self-defeating. Some companies have had to be rather creative to get the team to return to office.
Different companies will have different perspectives as to how quickly to return to work, or how many work-from-home days are optimal to balance employee productivity with greater flexibility. If you are among those struggling to get your team to return, here’s a systematic approach to making the office a place people want to be.
Reassure them they’ll be safe
If most of your employees want a hybrid model, don’t fight it. Support this by offering flexibility and equipping them with the necessary technology, resources, and training and you’ll be rewarded by retaining your best talent and having a productive workforce. The level of flexibility can be determined by the organisation as a whole or team leaders for individual teams.
Moving from “me” to “we”
How others are working
The best strategy is one that fits with the company’s culture, industry, type of work and the preferences of both employers and employees. There is no “one size fits all”.
For example, during the pandemic, software company Atlassian implemented a “Team Anywhere” policy. This allowed its 7,000+ employees to relocate anywhere Atlassian has a company presence and then choose whether or not to go into the office.
As Atlassian develops cloud-based workflow tools, the remote workforce provided an opportunity for employees to test their products first-hand and improve them along the way. Atlassian claims this policy helped the company grow and add 2,000 new staff.
Another recent example is Airbnb launching its latest “live and work anywhere” policy. The latest arrangement gives employees the choice to work from home or from the office, to move anywhere within their current country without any changes in their current compensation, and to have the flexibility to work and travel around the world.
To address the social aspect of working with a team, Airbnb will prioritise quality over quantity by organising social events or team gatherings outside work so team members continue to feel connected. They have designed the solution with ample structure and coordination so that it can unlock creativity and innovation.
A changing workforce
By the end of last year, millennials and members of so-called generation z made up 41 per cent of the Hong Kong workforce. This cohort generally places a high value on flexibility and choice. To keep workers engaged and attract and retain good talent, it’s vital that companies listen and adapt to the needs and preferences of their employees. If you’re wondering when the best time is to think about your company’s hybrid work policies and plan for your future workforce – the time is now.
Jennifer So is head of workplace strategy, transaction and advisory services at CBRE Hong Kong